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10 cities in Maharashtra have not submitted plans to reduce air pollution

In May, the World Health Organization’s report said 14 of the most polluted cities in the world were in India

mumbai Updated: Jun 13, 2018 12:54 IST
Badri Chatterjee
Badri Chatterjee
Hindustan Times
Mumbai,Maharashtra,Central Pollution Control Board
For a long-term solution against air pollution, the Union environment ministry wants a 35% reduction of air pollution in the next three years and 50% reduction in five years for the polluted cities. (Pic for representation/REUTERS )

Three months after the Centre asked India’s most polluted cities to come up with a plan to reduce air pollution, almost a third of them do not have an action plan.

As part of the Centre’s National Clean Air Programme (NCAP) that identified 100 most-polluted cities across the country in March, the figure was later updated to 102 cities.

Seventy-one cities have chalked out an air pollution action plan, said officials from the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), the country’s apex pollution regulator.

Thirty-one are expected to submit their drafts by June 30, they said.

For a long-term solution against air pollution, the Union environment ministry wants a 35% reduction of air pollution in the next three years and 50% reduction in five years for the polluted cities. The reduction is in particulate matter (PM) which is a mix of organic and chemicals, including dust, pollen and soot.

“A standard framework has been provided to all states, which needs to be approved by the state government. Since there are a lot of issues related to financial closure for sectorwise source abatement, the involvement of the state governments is important,” said A Sudhakar, member secretary, CPCB.

CPCB shared with HT a list of the cities that have not submitted pollution mitigation strategies so far. Maharashtra has the most number of such cities (10), followed by Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Karnataka.

“Major metropolitan cities such as Mumbai, New Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai, Gurugram and major cities in east and northeast India have developed their plans. Eight northern and central Indian states are yet to finalise their plans. These are dynamic plans and are subject to change in the coming years as air quality improves,” said Sudhakar.

He added that the basic framework for the action plan includes improving air quality monitoring network for both manual and continuous air quality stations, disseminating data to maximum stakeholders, developing source apportionment across each polluting sector with targets and emission inventory proposals for those sectors, and consulting the public to understand best implementation strategies.

“We had first asked major cities to submit an action plan in January. We pushed the deadline to March but by then we received only 51 action plans. However, some states are first approaching their respective state bodies and then coming to CPCB with their final drafts. The fact that states are pushing for clean air is a welcome sign,” said Sudhakar.

In May, the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) report said 14 most-polluted cities in the world were from India — New Delhi topped the list and Mumbai ranked fourth.

EXPERT SPEAK

“The larger focus has to be on adequate stringency of the action plan. The plan should be effective with a clear monitoring and oversight framework. The next step is to implement the plan wherein each and every action point identified under different pollution sources should have a clear timeline for completion, which again needs to be closely monitored,” said Anumita Roy Choudhury, executive director, Centre for Science and Environment, Delhi.

“The deadline should be available in the public domain. Based on 2016 data, we found the impact of particulate pollution is affecting 229 cities in India that are recording levels much above the safe standards. The programme is addressing a fraction of the larger issue,” said Sunil Dahiya, senior campaigner, NGO Greenpeace India.

First Published: Jun 13, 2018 12:46 IST