Since the launch of the National Clean air Programme (NCAP) in 2019, a number of strategies have been taken at the national level, both for regional and urban areas, to reduce air pollution. But all the initiative seems to have gone in vain as air quality continues to worsen. This year NCAP has completed four years but no such remarkable outcome has been witnessed from this initiative; rather most of the cities have continued to break the safety line fixed by the Central Pollution Control Board. The initial goal of the NCAP was to lower the concentration of the major air pollutants (PM10 and PM2.5) in 112 cities across the nation by 20–30% in 2024 (relative to base levels in 2017). The government did, however, announce a new goal in September 2022 - a 40% reduction in particulate matter concentration by 2026. Over `6897.06 crore have been distributed to 131 cities since the programme’s commencement for the purpose of managing air pollution. According to data, several of the most polluting cities in 2019 had a slight improvement in their pollution levels, while the majority of the least polluted cities saw an increase.For the non-attainment cities, the NCAP established a goal in 2019 to reduce ultra-fine particulate matter levels by 20–30% by 2022. The Union government accelerated its goal in September 2022 to a 40% decrease in pollution levels by 2026. However, even in 2022, pollution levels in these cities were still significantly higher than the yearly average safe limits set by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB). Based on the most recent NCAP Progress Report, Delhi and Mumbai has been detected as two of the most polluted cities. The data shows that Mumbai, Thane, Ulhasnagar, Navi Mumbai, and Badlapur collectively reported an average annual PM10 level of 103 g/m3 last year, exceeding the 60 g/m3 limit that the National Ambient Air Quality Standards consider to be safe (NAAQS). This was greater than the baseline value of 98 g/m3 in 2020 and much higher than the annual decrease objective of 83 g/m3. As per analysis of the current year, only Ulhasnagar in Mumbai has shown a marginal positivity. The city’s PM10 level dropped to 77 g/m3 in 2022 from an 81 g/m3 level in 2019. Some of the recent reports stated that several AQI sensors in Mumbai were showing signs like Delhi’s air quality. This does not imply that Mumbai’s air is generally worse than that of the nation’s capital, but it does mean that some areas of Mumbai have hotspots with higher emission loads than even some locations in Delhi. It is vital to target emissions at their source and locate hotspots.Impact of NCAPIn 102 non-attainment localities that have not achieved the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) between 2011 and 2015, this initiative was introduced in 2019. Due to their inability to satisfy the NAAQS under the National Air Quality Monitoring Program, 131 cities have been added to the list of non-attainment cities since the NCAP was established (NAMP). Some of the most polluting cities in 2019 have witnessed a little improvement in PM2.5 and PM10 levels as of 2022. According to the NCAP tracker, the majority of the top 10 most polluted cities in 2022 are situated on the Indo-Gangetic plain. Patna, Muzaffarpur, and Gaya, the three non-attainment cities in Bihar, are all listed among the top 10 most polluted cities.In order to address the demand for better air pollution management in the area outside of Delhi, an airshed strategy can offer real and long-term answers. In order to maximize the benefits of pollution mitigation initiatives, it also reiterates the necessity to stop pollution at its source.
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