Updated: January 20, 2021 11:52:14 pm
With the Union budget set to be presented soon, experts have urged that it is time for the country to show her commitment towards the fight against pollution. Dr Santosh Harish, Fellow at Centre for Policy Research, said, “There is increasing demand to focus on areas where the Finance Commission grant for air quality improvement receives further support and the performance framework for receiving these grants is finalised at the earliest.
The budgets allocated under the National Clean Air Programme should be sustained and increased substantially, Dr Harish said at a webinar organised by Delhi-based climate communications initiative, Climate Trends, for a status check of the progress being made under India’s air pollution management efforts.
India’s air pollution problem has been complex due to the range of polluting sources at play, experts said. Even during the stringent lockdown in 2020, studies showed that out of the eight major polluting sources, only four were shut — vehicles, industrial activity, brick kilns and construction activity. Power plants were still operational although at reduced capacity, while household cooking, open burning and diesel generators all added to ensure that even in the best case scenario, India’s background pollution levels ranged from 20-30 µg/m3.
Prof S N Tripathi, head of department of Civil Engineering at IIT Kanpur and nodal officer of the National Knowledge Network), which has been set up as an advisory board to guide central and state pollution control boards in implementing the National Clean Air Programme, said, “Since NCAP started in 2019, we are now one-fifth on its way. It is a five-year plan with a target to reduce 20-30 per cent of PM 2.5 and PM 10 by 2024, and the measures being taken now are aimed to increase accountability.”
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