India Environmental Care – The National Clean Air Program

Throughout the last few months, the world is moving towards the improvement of environmental protection and India is also doing its part.

On the 12th of January 2019, the National Clean Air Program (“NCAP”) was launched by the Union Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Dr. Harsh Vardhan in New Delhi. This nationwide scheme will expand the national air quality monitoring network, build capacity for air pollution management, and strengthen public awareness about the dangers of air pollution.

The NCAP clearly brings much needed focus to city-action that can help the Country achieve cleaner air. Under the NCAP, city-specific action plans will be developed for all 102 cities that exceed national air quality safeguards.

This program has tentatively set a national target of 20%–30% reduction of PM2.5 (particulate matter of diameter 2.5 micrometer or less, or PM2.5) and PM10 (particulate matter of diameter 10 micrometer or less, or PM10) concentration by 2024.

The NCAP shall avail of the assistance of the Smart Cities program, introduced to bring about scientific development of selected cities, to launch the NCAP in the 43 Smart Cities falling in the list of the 102 non-attainment cities. The aim is to align this program with existing policies and programs, including the National Action Plan on Climate Change, initiatives on electric vehicles, the Smart Cities Mission among others.

It underlines the need for close collaboration and cross-sectoral coordination among central ministries, State governments and local bodies. The program will partner with multilateral and bilateral international organizations, and philanthropic foundations and leading technical institutions in order to achieve its outcomes.

The allocated budget is reportedly INR 300 Crore/USD 42.6 million for the first two years. However, experts have expressed concern with the budget of the program, deeming it too low to achieve substantial results across the Country.

NCAP has certainly helped kick start the much-awaited good practice of setting air pollution reduction targets and this program reveals admirable proposals of India to take its first steps to improve air quality, in line with the needs of the entire world. In the event India will succeed in implementing this ambitious plan, big changes are certain to emerge, showcasing an important example to be followed by other Countries.