National Clean Air Programme: Focus on reducing particulate matter by 40 percent by 2026

In cities covered by the National Clean Air Programme (NCAP), the Centre has set a new target of 40 per cent reduction in particulate matter concentration by 2026, up from 20 to 30 per cent by 2024.

Union Environment Ministry says 95 of the 131 nonattainment cities covered under NCAP saw an “overall improvement” in PM10 levels in 2021 compared to 2017.

Chennai, Madurai, and Nashik are among the 20 cities that meet the national standard for PM10 concentration (60 micrograms per cubic metre).

Inhalable PM2.5 particles have a diameter of 2.5 micrometers or smaller and pose the biggest health risk.

Over five consecutive years (2011-2015), 132 cities covered by the NCAP didn’t meet national ambient air quality standards.

The goal is to reduce PM levels by 2024 by 20 to 30 per cent. So far, the results of NCAP have been good. Therefore, the reduction target has been updated to 40 per cent by 2026,” an official said.

As part of the NCAP, city-specific action plans have been developed that include measures such as strengthening the air quality monitoring network, reducing vehicle and industrial emissions, and raising public awareness.

As a result of the updated targets, the cities are also updating their action plans.

There have been improvements in PM 10 concentrations in Delhi, Noida, Ghaziabad, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Bengaluru, Chandigarh, Dehradun, Patna, Nagpur, Pune, Agra, Allahabad, Bareilly, Firozabad, Moradabad, Kanpur, Varanasi, Jalandhar, Ludhiana, Jaipur, Jodhpur, Jamshedpur, Ranchi, Raipur among others in the period between 2017 and 2018.

Compared to 2017, Delhi’s PM10 concentration decreased to 196 micrograms per cubic metre in 2021 from 241 micrograms in 2017.

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