[ecis2016.org] The government’s National Clean Air Programme to tackle air pollution is a good start, but it needs public participation from the planning level and transparency in terms of information, a green body has said
Greenpeace India has welcomed the government’s growing concentration towards air pollution, while also raising concerns over what it termed as ‘ambiguity on the planning, given the lack of information on public domain regarding the National Clean Air Programme (NCAP)’. Greenpeace India accessed the NCAP’s concept document through an RTI. “There has to be a transparency of information in the public domain and inclusive public participation starting from planning level,” Sunil Dahiya, senior campaigner, Greenpeace India, said.
He pointed out that the concept note on the NCAP was a ‘big step’ in the right direction to achieve breathable air across the country. “We hope that the CPCB and Environment Ministry, along with other ministries and departments, come up with a detailed action plan soon and inform the public,” Dahiya said. The government formulated the NCAP as a long-term and time-bound national level strategy, to tackle increasing air pollution in the country in a comprehensive manner.
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Greenpeace India said that the draft, in its existing form, has no reference of specific management activities and source-based initiatives for implementation of air quality management systems. “The draft needs more thinking and clarity, in terms of articulating interim milestones for completing source apportionment studies, to reduce 35 per cent and 50 per cent pollution in three and five years, respectively, along with specific targets for polluting sectors such power and industry,” he said.
The green body in its Airpocalypse-II report, had highlighted that over 80 per cent of cities in India where air quality is monitored, are severely polluted and it impacts 47 million children in the country. Also, 580 million people in India do not even have a single air quality monitoring station, in the districts they are living. NCAP emphasises on increasing manual monitoring stations from 684 to 1,000 stations across the country, and CAAQMS to 268 from existing 84 which is a good step, it said.
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Greenpeace India hoped that the NCAP should not follow the precedent set by what is happening with the new emission standards for coal-based power plants (communicated in December 2015). It said that even after the stipulated deadline (December 2017) not even a single power plant complies with the norms and we are still facing the public health emergency of high air pollution levels, originating from the power sector.
“The fact that this concept note is not even available in the public domain raises concerns on how the government is going to make it a truly participatory initiative. It is important that all discussions and documents regarding the NCAP be available in the public domain and people are informed of planning, implementation and progress, through press briefings and other channels,” Dahiya added.
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