• The Centre has launched a programme to reduce particulate matter (PM) pollution by 20-30% in at least 102 cities by 2024.
  • The National Clean Air Programme (NCAP), which was formally is envisaged as a scheme to provide the States and the Centre with a framework to combat air pollution.
  • This is our war against pollution across the length and breadth of the country.
  • Pointing out that curbing PM pollution would be a long-term process, officials said the ₹300-crore programme will bring pollution concerns to the heart of a State’s development plans.
  • The NCAP will be a mid-term, five-year action plan with 2019 as the first year.
  • This is not a pan-India, but a city-specific programme.
  • In the past year, the 102 cities, identified as hotspots of pollution, were asked to submit a plan for how they would address the problem.
  • Broadly, the plans include increasing the number of monitoring stations, providing technology support, conducting source apportionment studies, and strengthening enforcement.
  • For achieving the NCAP targets, the cities will have to calculate the reduction in pollution keeping 2017’s average annual PM levels as the base year.
  • The World Health Organisation’s database on air pollution over the years has listed Tier I and Tier II Indian cities as some of the most polluted places in the world.
  • In 2018, 14 of the world’s 15 most polluted cities were in India.
  • A study in the journal Lancet ranked India as No.1 on premature mortality and deaths from air pollution.
  • As part of the NCAP, cities have been given a specified number of days to implement specific measures such as “ensuring roads are pothole-free to improve traffic flow and thereby reduce dust” (within 60 days) or “ensuring strict action against unauthorised brick kilns” (within 30 days).
  • It doesn’t specify an exact date for when these obligations kick in.
  • According to a report by the environment ministry, Bejing achieved a 40% reduction in 5 years, Mexico city a 73% reduction over 25 years, and Santiago, Chile, a 61% decline over 22 years.
  • In Delhi, we have seen an 8% reduction in annual PM levels from 2016