air pollution Current Affairs

Environment ministry releases draft National Clean Air Programme

The Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC) has released draft of National Clean Air Programme (NCAP) proposing multiple strategies to reduce air pollution. It aims to tackle increasing air pollution problem across country in comprehensive manner. The goal of NCAP is to meet prescribed annual average ambient air quality standards at all locations in country in a stipulated time frame. However it does not mention of any specific target and time frame. Under NCAP, the MoEFCC plans to take host of measures to bring down air pollution.

Objectives of the NCAP

  • Augment and evolve effective and proficient ambient air quality monitoring network across country to ensure comprehensive and reliable database.
  • To have efficient data dissemination and public outreach mechanism for timely measures for prevention and mitigation of air pollution.
  • To have feasible management plan for prevention, control and abatement of air pollution.

Measures to be taken by MoEFCC under NCAP

Under proposed NCAP, the MoEFCC will augment air quality monitoring network, identification of alternative technology for real-time monitoring, set up of 10 city super network, indoor air pollution monitoring and management and air pollution health impact studies. Other measures under it also includes air quality forecasting system, issuance of notification on dust management, three-tier mechanism for review, assessment and inspection for implementation and national emission inventory.

Comment

Earlier Union Minister Harsh Vardhan had said that MoEFCC hopes to bring down air pollution in around 100 non-attainment cities by 35% in three years and 50% in five years. Non-attainment cities are those considered to have air quality worse than National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS). However, NCAP released by MoECC has no reference to the target it internally conceived and publicly announced.

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Xian smog tower: China builds world’s biggest air purifier

China has constructed Xian smog tower, an experimental air purifying tower touted to be the world’s biggest at height of over 100 meters (328 feet) in an attempt to fight air pollution.

The tower is built in Xian in Shaanxi province and has brought positive effect on chronic smog problem in China. It is undergoing testing by researchers at Institute of Earth Environment at Chinese Academy of Sciences.

Xian smog tower

Xian smog tower project was announced in 2015 to find low-cost method to artificially remove pollutants from atmosphere such as PM2.5, nitrates and sulphur dioxide which are the most harmful to human health.

The polluted air is sucked into glasshouses of tower and is then heated up by solar energy. The hot air then moves through multiple cleaning filters and helps in reducing air pollution. The system in air purifier also works during winters as coatings on greenhouses enable glass to absorb solar radiation at higher efficiency.

According to its original design, the full-sized tower will reach 500 metres (1,640 feet) high with diameter of 200 metres (656 feet). This tower size will capture greenhouses in nearly 30 square kilometres and will be capable of purifying the air for small-sized city.

Signficance

During the tests, the tower has managed to produce more than 10 million cubic metres (353 million cubic feet) of clean air day since its launch. It was able to bring down the smog to moderate levels the day when air quality was severe. However, the results were preliminary as of now. It has also improved quality of air after observations were made over distance of 10 square kilometers in the past few months.

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