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National Clean Air Campaign


Under the National Clean Air Campaign (NCAP), analysts found that progress has been slow, and pollution has only incrementally reduced in most cities.


GS III: Environment and Ecology

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. National Clean Air Programme (NCAP)
  2. Target Levels
  3. Challenges

National Clean Air Programme (NCAP)

  • Launched by the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC) in January 2019.
  • It is the first-ever national framework for air quality management with a time-bound reduction target.
Objectives of NCAP
  • The program aims to cut the concentration of coarse (PM10) and fine particles (PM2.5) by at least 20% in the next five years, with 2017 as the base year for comparison.
  • The program covers 132 non-attainment cities which were identified by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB).
  • Non-attainment cities are those that have fallen short of the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for over five years.
National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS)
  • NAAQs are the standards for ambient air quality with reference to various identified pollutant notified by the CPCB under the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981.
  • List of pollutants under NAAQS: PM10, PM2.5, SO2, NO2, CO, NH3, Ozone, Lead, Benzene, Benzo-Pyrene, Arsenic and Nickel.

Target Levels

Current Scenario:
  • The annual average prescribed limits for PM2.5 and PM10 in the country are 40 micrograms/per cubic metre (ug/m3) and 60 micrograms/per cubic metre respectively.
New Targets:
  • The NCAP initially set a target of reducing key air pollutants PM10 and PM2.5 by 20-30% by 2024, using 2017 pollution levels as the base year.
  • In September 2022, the Centre revised the target and set a new goal of a 40% reduction in particulate matter concentration by 2026.
Assessing Improvements:
  • Cities are required to measure improvements starting from 2020-21, which requires a 15% or more reduction in the annual average PM10 concentration and a concurrent increase in the number of clean air days to at least 200.
  • Cities that fail to reach these targets will have their funding reduced.


  • NCAP lacks a strong fiscal and funding strategy.
  • The pollution reduction targets in the cities are not legally binding on the states.
  • There is inadequate monitoring of PM2.5 levels.
  • The targets under the action plan are less ambitious and a reduction of 20-30% from the 2017 level by 2024 will not be sufficient to achieve desired air quality.

-Source: The Hindu

November 2023