Enviornment Prelims cum Mains

Clean Air Programme: how Centre plans to wage a ‘war against pollution’


  • Recently, the Union government formally launched the National Clean Air Programme (NCAP) with an ambitious target of reducing particulate matter pollution, both PM2.5 and PM10 concentrations, in 102 cities by 20-30% from current levels by 2024.


Need for NCAP

  • According to a report of India State-Level Disease Burden Initiative, every 1 in 8 deaths in India occur due to air pollution.
  • In 2017, about 1.24 million deaths in India occurred due to air pollution.
  • 8% of the total disease burden in India and 11% of premature deaths are attributed to air pollution.
  • Out of 1.24 million, 0.67 million deaths occurred due to ambient particulate matter pollution and 0.48 million deaths due to household air pollution.
  • Further, NCAP identifies particulate matter as a major challenge in urban areas of the Indo-Gangetic plain.
  • According to WHO, 14 of the world’s 15 most polluted cities were in India in 2018
  • As a result, India has identified 102 cities as hotspots of pollution requiring city-specific plans to combat air pollution.
  • Similar efforts have yielded results in cities world over, with Bejing achieving a 40% reduction in 5 years, Mexico city a 73% reduction over 25 years, and Santiago, Chile, a 61% decline over 22 years.
  • Further, international experiences have showed the importance of city-specific action plans, rather than country-oriented, to control air pollution like Beijing and Seoul.

About NCAP

  • In December 2017, the Union government announced the National Clean Air Programme (NCAP) that proposes multiple strategies to combat air pollution particularly PM2.5 and PM 10 concentrations across the country.
  • The NCAP is envisaged as a scheme to provide the States and the Centre with a framework to combat air pollution in a time-bound manner.
  • It requires the states to frame their own Clean Air Programmes with pollution forming a key component in their development plans.
  • The primary goal of NCAP is to meet the prescribed annual average ambient air quality standards (PM2.5 and PM 10 concentrations) across the country within a stipulated timeframe.
  • The NCAP will be a 5-year action plan with a mid-term target to reduce air pollution by 20-30% in 102 select cities by 2024 from 2019.
  • The government has set 2017 as the base year for measuring progress of the programme.
  • The 102 cities selected for NCAP rollout are those that are considered to have air quality worse than the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) according to Central Pollution Control Board’s data for 2011-2015.


  • To augment and evolve ambient air quality monitoring network across the country to build a reliable database.
  • Ensuring public participation in planning and implementation of air pollution policies.
  • To have a feasible management plan for prevention, control and abatement of air pollution.

Components of NCAP

  • Tackle pollution from various sources including power plants, transport, industry, residential and agriculture sectors etc.
  • Increase number of manual air quality monitoring stations from 703 to 1,000.
  • Expand the network of the Continuous Ambient Air Quality Monitoring Stations (CAAQMS)
  • Set up Air Information Centre for data analysis, interpretation and dissemination through GIS platforms.
  • Institutional framework for NCAP for implementation and monitoring will include
  • An apex committee under Minister MOEF
  • A steering committee under MOEF secretary
  • National\state-level project implementation units including members from CPCB and SPCB.
  • The NCAP’s web-based, three-tier mechanism will review, monitor, assess and inspect to avoid any form of non-compliance.

City-Specific Action Plans for non-attainment cities

  • NCAP has a city-specific action plans consisting pollution abatement measures for 102 non-attainment cities.
  • A non-attainment city is the one which has air quality worse than the National Ambient Air Quality Standards.
  • Totally 102 cities have been identified 94 cities as non-attainment cities on the basis of 5-years data generated under the National Air Quality Monitoring Programme.
  • All big metros are on the list including Mumbai, Pune, Nagpur, Kanpur, Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Chandigarh, Lucknow, Varanasi, Bhopal Jaipur etc.
  • The plan for 102 non-attainment cities will have three timelines to gradually reduce air pollution.
  • Under the timelines, air pollution in these cities will be reduced by
  1. 35% in the next three years
  2. 50% in the next five years
  3. 70-80% in the next 10 years.
  • States are entrusted with the responsibility to frame their own city-specific plan.
  • Centre would assist states in building capacities to reduce pollution level in tune with the prescribed timelines.
  • In August 2018, 73 out of 102 cities submitted a plan of remedial action under NACP.

How will it be implemented?

  • Broadly, NCAP is a collaborative, multi-scale and cross-sectoral coordination between central ministries, state governments, and local bodies.
  • The NCAP’s web-based, three-tier mechanism will review, monitor, assess and inspect to avoid any form of non-compliance
  • According to Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981, CPCB is the nodal agency for prevention, control, and abatement of air pollution including NCAP.

Mitigation Measures

Specific measures under NCAP include

  • Congestion management by making roads pothole-free to improve traffic flow and thereby reduce dust within 60 days.
  • Ensuring strict action against unauthorised brick kilns within 30 days.
  • Solid waste management by municipal corporations,
  • Stringent industrial standards.
  • Extensive plantation drive at pollution hotspots
  • In situ management of crop residue to tackle particulate pollution due to stubble burning.
  • Compliance to emission standard set by the Ministry of Environment and Forests for Thermal Power Plant to tackle pollution from power sector emissions.


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