• Over 130 highly polluted cities violating the national air quality standards have been left out of the recently launched National Clean Air Programme (NCAP), a new study has revealed.
• A Greenpeace India report, which identified 139 cities where air pollution level exceeds national standards, said the NCAP is based on limited data from 2011-2015 and that’s why a large number of highly polluted cities have been kept out of its purview.
• The Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC) launched the five-year action plan earlier this month to reduce air pollution by 30 per cent by 2024, with 2017 as base year.
Key highlights of the report
• The report title ‘Airpocalypse III’ analysed air pollution data of 313 cities and towns for the year 2017.
• It said that of the 313 cities, 241 are on the list of non-attainment cities (highly polluted cities), but the NCAP has included only 102.
• All these 241 cities are on the list of ‘non-attainment’ cities that are required to take action under the NCAP.
• This is a sharp increase of 139 cities (and) the list of non-attainment cities in the NCAP was drawn up using data from 2011-2015.
• The environment body said it would ask the ministry to update the list with 2017 data.
Target set by the government
• Realizing the 30 per cent pollution reduction target by 2024 must be only the first step in making India’s air breathable.
• That will still leave about 50 per cent cities in violation of the national air quality standards.
• Millions of Indians will continue breathing hazardous air even in years to come, making it imperative that the MoEFCC set more specific and ambitious city-wise and sector-wise pollution reduction targets.
• The inclusion of sectoral pollution reduction targets along with strong accountability and compliance mechanisms is the only way in which we can achieve clean air and blue skies.
Mains Paper 3: Environment | Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment
Prelims level: Airpocalypse III Report
Mains level: Potential threats of Nitrogen Pollution from various sources