by Anushree Ghosh
Analyzing the National Clean Air program
Our constitution mentions it as an obligation to conserve the environment and achieve sustainability. However, our country faces several issues because of its burgeoning population and pollution is one of the gravest amongst them. Air pollution includes emission from factories, construction sites, and agriculture. Due to rapid urbanisation and industrialization, pollution levels are increasingly becoming hazardous for the citizens. Seasonal dense smog in metropolitan cities have become a pattern in the last few years and is continuously under public scrutiny.
As per the article published by “The Wire” on Sept 2018:
“Recently, the US Health Effects Institute reported that India and China account for over half of global deaths due to air pollution. The Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago also concluded that Indians could live four years longer on average if the nation complied with WHO standards.”
Union Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change Dr Harsh Vardhan launched the National Clean Air Programme (NCAP) on 10th January 2019 to reduce air pollution by 2024.
It includes multi-level planning between the ministries of Central and State government and coordination with the local bodies. A budget of Rs.300 was allocated for two years to deal with air pollution issues. Main features of NCAP are monitoring station in different cities and villages, awareness campaigns, certification of monitoring equipment, execution of plans, and sectorial involvement. NCAP also emphasizes the need to have scientific air quality management plans for cities that are not aligned with the National Ambient Air Quality Standards.
Analyzing the efficiency of the Project
The programme has skipped many crucial points that are required to curb the situation. While it highlights the main pollution sources, solutions to these issues are not addressed. For instance, research reports by “The Centre for Science and Environment” featured that diesel generators increased the PM2.5 & PM10 levels to 30% in Gurugram. While the problem has been identified, there are no specific steps suggested to decrease the PM2.5 & PM10 levels.
Another significant source that was neglected was forest fires. India has documented a 25% increase in forest fires in the last 4 years. There is no integrated forest policy that caters to this problem, and therefore NCAP lack vision in its approach.
There are no guidelines that mention the responsibilities of different government bodies and thus simulated co-ordination between these agencies becomes a crucial issue, with shared goals ownership, even moving towards a cleaner environment would not be possible. The draft needs to include many more sources that may not fall in the broad category but are majorly responsible for polluting the environment.