Need coordinated effort by central, state and local admins to improve air quality: Bhupender Yadav
Union Environment Minister Bhupender Yadav

New Delhi: The Centre provided Rs 8,915 crore in the last four years to improve air quality in the 131 cities covered under the National Clean Air Programme (NCAP), Union Environment Minister Bhupender Yadav has said.

Addressing a meeting of the National Apex Committee under NCAP on Wednesday, Yadav emphasised the need for coordinated action by central and state governments, Union territory administrations, urban local bodies and state pollution control boards to improve air quality.

Yadav appreciated the performance of 95 cities which have improved air quality and 20 cities which met the national ambient air quality standards in the financial year 2021-22 under the programme, a statement said.

He spoke on the significance of the airshed approach adopted in the Indo-Gangetic plains and stressed the need for regional cooperation to address the issue of air pollution.

NCAP is a national-level strategy for a 20 per cent to 30 per cent reduction in PM2.5 and PM10 concentration by 2024, with 2017 as the base year for comparison. The programme covers 131 non-attainment cities which did not meet the prescribed national ambient air quality standards for five consecutive years (2011-2015).

The Centre has set a new target of 40 per cent reduction in particulate matter concentration in the cities covered under NCAP by 2026.

According to the Union Environment Ministry, 95 of the 131 non-attainment cities covered under NCAP have witnessed an “overall improvement” in PM10 levels in 2021 as compared to 2017 levels.

Twenty cities, including Chennai, Madurai and Nashik, have met the national standards for annual average PM10 concentration (60 microgram per cubic metre).

The acceptable annual standard for PM2.5 is 40 micrograms per cubic metre.

PM2.5 are fine inhalable particles, with diameters that are generally 2.5 micrometers and smaller, and are the greatest risk to health.

Minister of State for Environment Ashwini Kumar Choubey congratulated Lucknow, Prayagraj, Varanasi, Moradabad, Firozabad, Amravati, Dewas, Sunder Nagar and Nalagarh which have received a cash award under the Swacchh Vayu Sarvekshan conducted for the financial year 2022-23.

He requested states and Union territories to submit proposals under the Nagar Van Yojana and Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation for increasing the green cover in NCAP cities, the statement said.

The ministers also emphasised the importance of Mission LiFE launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi for taking citizen-centric actions to protect and conserve the environment.

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