National Clean Air Programme Current Affairs - 2020

State of Global Air 2019

The US-based organisation Health Effects Institute (HEI) has released the State of Global Air 2019. The findings of the Study are:

  • Overall long-term exposure to outdoor and indoor air pollution contributed to nearly five million deaths from stroke, diabetes, heart attack, lung cancer, and chronic lung disease in 2017.
  • Out of these, three million deaths are directly attributed to PM 2.5, half of which were from India and China.
  • South Asia viz. Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Pakistan is the most polluted region, with over 1.5 million air-pollution-related deaths.
  • China and India together were responsible for over half of the total global attributable deaths from air pollution in 2017.
  • The life of a South Asian child born today is shortened by two years and six months growing up in current high levels of air pollution, while the global life expectancy loss is 20 months.
  • Worldwide, air pollution is responsible for more deaths than many better-known risk factors such as malnutrition, alcohol use and physical inactivity.
  • More people globally die from air pollution-related diseases than from road traffic injuries or malaria every year.
  • Nearly half of the world’s population, a total of 3.6 billion people — were exposed to household air pollution in 2017.
  • Rapid phasing out of fossil fuels could prevent three million premature deaths annually worldwide.

Findings about India

  • Exposure to outdoor and indoor air pollution contributed to over 1.2 million deaths in India in 2017.
  • Air pollution is the third highest cause of death among all health risks, ranking just above smoking in India.
  • In India, 60 per cent of the population still uses solid fuels. This underscores the importance of achieving success in government initiatives to address the problem.
  • Household air pollution can be a major source of impact in outdoor air, with indoor pollution emitted to the outdoor air being the largest cause of health impacts from among all sources in India, contributing to one in four outdoor air pollution-related deaths.

The report notes that India has initiated major steps to address pollution sources like the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana, accelerated Bharat Stage VI clean vehicle standards and the new National Clean Air Programme. These and other future initiatives have the potential if fully implemented as part of a sustained commitment to air quality, to result in significant health benefits in coming years.

National Clean Air Programme Launched

The Union Environment Minister Harsh Vardhan launched the National Clean Air Programme (NCAP). The programme aims to tackle the challenge of increasing pollution in the cities and towns.

Features of the Programme

The important features of the programme are:

  • It is a five-year action plan with a tentative target of 20-30% reduction in concentrations of PM10 and PM2.5 by 2024, with 2017 as the base year.
  • The plan covers 102 non-attainment cities, across 23 states and Union territories, which were identified by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) on the basis of their ambient air quality data between 2011 and 2015.

Non-attainment cities

Cities are considered as Non-attainment cities, if they were consistently showing poorer air quality than the National Ambient Air Quality Standards. Cities included under the list of Non-attainment cities Delhi, Varanasi, Bhopal, Kolkata, Noida, Muzaffarpur, and Mumbai.

  • The centre plans to scale up the air quality monitoring network across India under the programme.
  • Studies would be conducted across 102 non-attainment cities to ascertain pollution sources and the extent of their contribution.
  • 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.
  • Each city would be asked to develop its own action plan for implementation based on sources of pollution.
  • A three-tier system, including real-time physical data collection, data archiving, and an action trigger system in all 102 cities, besides extensive plantation plans, research on clean-technologies, landscaping of major arterial roads, and stringent industrial standards are proposed under the plan.
  • State-level plans of e-mobility in the two-wheeler sector, rapid augmentation of charging infrastructure, stringent implementation of BS-VI norms, boosting public transportation system, and adoption of third-party audits for polluting industries are proposed part of the plan.
  • The plan document is not binding on the states since the document is not a legal document.

The Environmentalists criticised the plan for not making it legally binding. The Environmentalists demand a more stringent action to ensure the safety and well being of millions of lives risk because of the continuously growing air pollution crisis.