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July 18, 2018

July 18, 2018 @ 10:42 AM

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Air pollution management in India

Air pollution management in India

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Read Following article on "Air pollution management in India"

A collaborative report released on April 17, 2018 by the Health Effects Institute, a nonprofit organisation based out of US revealed that India accounted for almost 25% of all the air pollution-related deaths in the world, in the year 2016.

The Indian economy has been booming ever since the turn of this century, and with this boom, the number of dusty construction sites and vehicles on the road have also increased significantly. The outdoor air pollution has emerged as a major health threat, as well as a prominent killer in the modern-day metropolitan India.

The major sources of air pollution in India are traffic congestion, vehicular emissions, fuel adulteration and biomass burning. Large-scale burning of the crop residues is a common sight in agricultural fields during the winter and autumn seasons. The burning serves as a low-cost alternative to the expensive mechanical drilling process, however, leads to plenty of smog, smoke and pollution.

NCAP - A new plan to reduce air pollution by almost 50% over the next 5 years

In a major development and as a part of its National Clean Air Program (NCAP), the central government of India has set specific targets and timelines to address this major public health emergency. The government has developed a comprehensive plan for reducing air pollution in 100 Indian cities.

The 100 cities identified were termed as ‘Non-attainment Cities,’ implying that the air quality in these places was worse than the National Ambient Air Quality Standards.

This initiative will witness the central government working in collaboration with its counterparts in different states. They have already devised the specific timelines and targets they must work towards. The cities that will be worked upon under this initiative include Delhi, Chandigarh, Varanasi, Kolkata, Nagpur, Kanpur, Lucknow, Agra, Varanasi and Mumbai among many others. All of them will have their own specific action plans.

The central government is targeting reducing the air pollution by almost 35% over the next 3 years, followed by a 50% reduction within 5 years. While formulating this plan, the government identified various pollution sources across multiple sectors, however, singled out power, agricultural, residential, industry and transport sectors as the biggest contributors.

This approach to tackle air pollution would require close coordination between many institutions across the 100 cities. Government is also thinking about setting up more monitoring stations, data collection centers and increasing the public participation in this process. The numbers accumulated through all these would be sent to an Air Information Centre for further analysis.

As per reports, the plan for Delhi has already been created and notified. Talking to the press in this regard, Mr. Harsh Vardhan, the Union Environment Minister stated, “The government has formulated a separate NCAP as a long-term time-bound national-level strategy to tackle the increasing air pollution problem across the country in a comprehensive manner. The overall objective of the NCAP is a comprehensive management plan for prevention, control and abatement of air pollution besides augmenting and evolving effective ambient air quality monitoring network across the country.” He didn’t divulge any specific and/or major details of the plan though.

Final word

Although the NCAP initiative is definitely a step in the right direction, it would require plenty of clarity and thinking (with regard to the articulation of interim milestones and for completion of the pertinent studies) to achieve the set targets of 35% and 50% reduction respectively. Accomplishing that along with the corresponding results in polluting sectors like industry and power will be a huge challenge.

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