CPCB plans to roll out action plans for air pollution in non attainment cities
Non-attainment cities in India are set to get air pollution action plans. The 94 non-attainment cities will get action plans similar to the one notified for Delhi in January this year.
“Delhi is not the most polluted city though it is the most talked about,” AK Mehta, Joint Secretary at the Environment Ministry said, speaking at a pollution conference jointly organised by the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago Center in Delhi and the Niti Aayog.
Cities are declared non-attainment if over a 5-year period they consistently do not meet the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for PM 10 (Particulate matter that is 10 microns or less in diameter) or NO2 (Nitrogen Dioxide). There are 112 cities that qualify as non-attainment cities based on three-year evaluations.
Though the NAAQS list 12 major pollutants, monitoring in India does not happen for all 12. Monitoring stations established by the CPCB measure three main pollutants: PM 10, PM 2.5 and Nitrogen Oxides (NOx). “By and large Sulphur Oxides (SOx), Nickel, lead, carbon monoxide, Benzene and Ozone,” are not a problem, Mehta said.
Indian regulators are criticised for not having source apportionment data for cities. “Though we are improving in this regard, there is still a big gap,” Sarath Guttikunda, who heads the NGO, Urban Emissions, said. “We don’t have perfect data but we have adequate data to formulate policies,” Mehta argued.
The plans will lay down timelines for attaining targets and responsibilities of different agencies. “The plans will include short and long term plans to tackle air pollution,” a senior Central Pollution Control Board official, said. “These will be based on the sources of pollution specific to the city. Guidelines have already been issued but this is the next step.”