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Focus: GS-II Governance, GS-III Environment and Ecology

Why in news?

The National Green Tribunal has slammed the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) over its report on the National Clean Air Programme (NCAP) which proposes 20-30% reduction of air pollution by 2024.


  • The NGT disapproved the submission of the MoEF that a committee, upon further deliberation, has concluded that 20-30% pollutant reduction under the NCAP seems realistic.
  • It said the MoEF’s view was against the constitutional mandate under Article 21.

Right to Life

  • Right to Clean Air stood recognised as part of Right to Life and failure to address air pollution was denial of Right to Life.
  • The tribunal said the enforcement of ‘Sustainable Development’ principle and ‘Public Trust Doctrine’ required stern measures to be adopted to give effect to the mandate of international obligations for which the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 and other laws had been enacted.
  • Under the NCAP, the target was to achieve norms in 10 years and reduce load to the extent of 35% in first three years with further reduction of pollution later.
  • It meant for 10 years pollution would remain unaddressed which was too long period of tolerating violations when clean air was Right to Life.
  • The Tribunal also said that Non-Attainment Cities (NACs) cover cities where standards were not consecutively met for five years.

No data

  • There is no data how much pollution has been reduced in the last two years – 2018-2020.
  • The tribunal said the NCAP for reduction of air pollution did not fully meet the mandate of sustainable development.
  • Violation of laid down air pollution levels resulting in large number of deaths and diseases needed to be addressed expeditiously.
  • Targeted time of reduction of pollution loads needed to be reduced and planned steps needed to be sternly implemented on the ground. The MoEF might take further action as per law, the Bench said.

National Clean Air Programme (NCAP)

  • The Central Government has launched the National Clean Air Programme (NCAP) to reduce particulate matter (PM) pollution.
  • NCAP is the first ever effort in the country to frame a national framework for air quality management with a time-bound reduction target.
  • India has an overall target to reduce hazardous PM levels by 20-30% by 2024 from their 2017 levels in 122 cities under the NCAP which was launched in 2019.
  • Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) will execute this nation-wide programme in consonance with the section 162 (b) of the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1986.
  • The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC), as a nodal central and apex agency, will have to flex its authority to ensure all NCAP indicators are integrated with multi-sector and inter-ministerial programmes to align with the air quality target and objectives.
  • The plan includes 102 non-attainment cities, across 23 states and Union territories, which were identified by Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) on the basis of their ambient air quality data between 2011 and 2015.
  • Non-attainment cities are those which have been consistently showing poorer air quality than the National Ambient Air Quality Standards. These include Delhi, Varanasi, Bhopal, Kolkata, Noida, Muzaffarpur, and Mumbai.
  • As part of the programme, the Centre also plans to scale up the air quality monitoring network across India.

Objectives of NCAP

  1. To augment and evolve effective and proficient ambient air quality monitoring network across the country for ensuring comprehensive and reliable database
  2. To have efficient data dissemination and public outreach mechanism for timely measures for prevention and mitigation of air pollution and for inclusive public participation in both planning and implementation of the programmes and policies of government on air pollution
  3. To have feasible management plan for prevention, control and abatement of air pollution.

Approach of NCAP

Collaborative, Multi-scale and Cross-Sectoral Coordination between relevant Central Ministries, State Government and local bodies.

Focus on no Regret Measures, Participatory and Disciplined approach.

-Source: The Hindu

December 2023