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National Clean Air Programme Feature &Critical Analysis

National Clean Air Programme Feature &Critical Analysis


  • GS 3 || Environment || Environment & Ecology || Pollution

Why in News?

  • After a long and impatient wait, Ministry of Environment and Forest Climate Change (MoEFCC) has announced the National Clean Air Programme (NCAP).

National Clean Air Programme

  • NCAP proposes a framework to achieve a national-level target of 20-30 percent reduction of (Particulate Matter) PM2.5 and PM10 concentration by between 2017 and 2024.
  • Particulate matter– Particulate matter is the sum of all solid and liquid particles suspended in the air many of which are hazardous. This complex mixture includes both organic and inorganic particles, such as dust, pollen, soot, smoke, and liquid droplets. These particles vary greatly in size, composition, and origin.
  • It will be a midterm, five-year action plan with 2019 as the first year.
  • The approach for NCAP includes collaborative, multi-scale and cross-sectoral coordination between the relevant central ministries, state governments and local bodies.

Features of the  NACP

  • It will be executed by CPCB (Central Pollution Control Board).
  • The budget of the programme is 300cr.
  • The plan covers 102 Non- attainment cities (cities which have very poor quality of air)
  • A three-tier system, including real-time physical data collection, data archiving, and an action trigger system in all 102 cities, besides extensive plans, research on clean-technologies, landscaping of major arterial roads, and stringent industrial standards are proposed under the plan.

Committees that will look after NACP

  • The Apex committee in the Ministry of Environment would periodically review the progress of these components on the basis of appropriate indicators, which will be evolved.

Benefits of the NACP

  • NCAP has certainly helped kick start the much-awaited good practice of setting air pollution reduction targets.
  • The biggest advantage of such targets is that it helps decide the level of stringency of local and regional action needed for the plans to be effective enough to meet the reduction targets.

NACP  needs a stronger mandate

  • This will not be notified under the Environment Protection Act or any other Act to create a firm mandate with a strong legal back up for cities and regions to implement NCAP in a time bound manner for effective reduction.
  • NCAP only mentions that the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) will execute this nationwide programmed in consonance with the section 162 (b) of the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1986.
  • The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) has not drawn upon the precedence of the notification of Graded Response Action Plan or the notice issued to comply with the Comprehensive Action Plan under the Environment Protection Act in Delhi and the National Capital Region (NCR).

How to measure effectiveness?

  • NCAP has certainly helped kick start the much-awaited good practice of setting air pollution reduction targets.
  • The biggest advantage of such targets is that it helps decide the level of stringency of local and regional action needed for the plans to be effective enough to meet the reduction targets.
  • It is interesting that NCAP has cited how Beijing has succeeded in reducing PM2.5 by 33.3 per cent in five years.
  • But NCAP may also explain and sensitise cities about the scale, depth and strictness of action with detailed pathways for clean energy and mobility transition, waste and dust management and control of combustion sources that had to be implemented to meet this target in Beijing and other Chinese cities.
  • This was also done with strong multi-tiered accountability system, under which various levels of government could be held legally accountable for shirking responsibilities.

Join all critical dots with clarity

  • It is encouraging to see that the NCAP, this time has listed, comparatively more comprehensive action points than the very minimalist and very generic 42 action points of CPCB that were put out earlier.
  • This time, NCAP will have to be about strategies for implementation with detailed indicators to enhance the potential impacts.
  • This will have to be taken forward under the NCAP and what will matter most are the right governing principles, and detailed qualitative and quantitative indicators for strategy development and targeted reduction in each sector at local and regional scale.
  • But these will have to be detailed out with clear pathways and milestones and integrated well with the NCAP strategies.
  • NCAP will also have to be more nuanced and adopt appropriate approaches for small and big cities according to their dominant pollution profile while several strategies may remain uniform.

Fiscal strategy

  • The most baffling part of NCAP is the absence of a robust fiscal and funding strategy. Only a pittance of Rs 300 crore is being earmarked for NCAP.
  • The Ministry of Finance will have to be on board to ensure that cross sectoral and inter-ministerial programmes have inbuilt indicators aligned with the NCAP objectives for restructuring of the budget and allocation if we want to see serious action and change on the ground.

Health  is on board with NCAP

  • NCAP continues to express skepticism about the existing health impact studies and evidences, it is encouraging to see that it has finally proposed support for health impact studies.
  • This was completely missing in the original draft plan. NCAP has now taken on board the National Health Environmental Profile of 20 cities that the MoEF&CC initiated along with the Indian Council of Medical Research with special focus on air pollution and health.
  • It has asked the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare to maintain health database and integrate that with decision making

Additional Info- Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB)

  • Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) is a statutory organisation, was constituted in September, 1974 under the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974. It serves as a field formation and also provides technical services to the Ministry of Environment and Forests of the provisions of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986. The Principal functions of the CPCB, as spelt out in the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974, and the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981 are:
  • To promote cleanliness of streams and wells in different areas of the States by prevention, control and abatement of water pollution
  • To improve the quality of air and to prevent, control, or abate air pollution in the country.

Mains Question

  • Discuss the mandate and effectiveness of NCAP.