The analysis of air quality data of 132 cities indicates that majority of cities are showing improvement in air quality as compared to 2019-20. This information was given by Shri Bhupender Yadav, Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change in the Rajya Sabha.
Air quality is monitored through manual and continuous ambient air quality monitoring system. “Ambient air quality data of Particulate Matter-PM10 (Size less than 10µm) of 36 cities showed an increase of PM10 concentration in 2020-2021 as compared to 2019-2020 whereas 96 cities has a decreasing trend, i.e., improvement in air quality,” the Minister said in a written reply.
According to the Minister, 18 cities were found to be within the prescribed National Ambient Air Quality Standard (PM10 less than 60 µg/m3) in 2019-20 which has increased to 27 in year 2020-21.
Air pollution is one of the biggest environmental challenges globally and is influenced by adverse meteorology, dust due to alluvial soil, and sources such as vehicles, industries, construction & demolition activities, road dust, biomass burning, etc.
The Government has taken several steps for mitigation of air pollution which were also continued during Covid 19 period such as introduction of BS-VI norms for fuel and vehicles since April, 2020, promotion of E-vehicles, stringent emission norms for industries including coal based Thermal Power Plants (TPPs), zig-zag technology for brick kilns, promotion of cleaner fuel such as PNG, real time monitoring of major industrial sectors, etc.
National Clean Air Programme (NCAP) has been launched as a comprehensive plan to tackle air pollution problem across the country in a focussed manner to achieve 20 % to 30 % reduction in PM10 and PM2.5 levels by 2024. City Specific Clean Air Action Plans have been prepared and is under implementation in 132 non-attainment and million plus population cities.
42 million plus cities/urban agglomerations in 15 States have been allocated Rs. 4400 crores in FY 2020-2021 as an interim grant by 15th Finance Commission for implementation of city clean air action plan. Further, 15th Finance Commission has also provided for performance based grant of Rs. 12139 crores for the year 2021-22 to 2025-26 for these 42 million plus cities/urban agglomeration for implementation of their city clean air plan. In addition, Rs. 375.44 Cr under NCAP (2019 -2021) has been provided for implementation of activities approved under city action plans for improvement of air quality.