In order to address the problem of air pollution in the nation, the Government of India started the National Clean Air Campaign in January 2019. The campaign aims to increase public awareness regarding the harmful effects of air pollution and to motivate individuals to the adoption of preventative measures against it. The initiative, which primarily focuses on cities and regions with high levels of air pollution, is being executed by the Ministry of Environment, Forest, and Climate Change in partnership with other central and state government agencies, NGOs, and community organisations.
The National Clean Air Campaign has the following goals:
- Reducing air pollution levels in cities and regions with high levels of pollution
- Encouraging people to adopt environmentally-friendly practices that reduce air pollution
- Creating awareness about the impacts of air pollution on health and the environment
- Promoting the use of cleaner technologies and practices in various sectors such as industry, transportation, and agriculture
It is the country’s first attempt to create a national framework for air quality control with a time-bound reduction target. With 2017 as the baseline year for comparison, it aims to reduce the concentration of coarse (particulate matter with a diameter of 10 micrometers or less, or PM10) and fine (particulate matter with a diameter of 2.5 micrometers or less, or PM2.5) particles by at least 20% over the course of the following five years. The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) nominated 103 non-attainment cities across 23 states and union territories for inclusion in the plan using data on ambient air quality collected between 2011 and 2015. Cities that haven’t met the NAAQS (National Ambient Air Quality Standards) for more than five years are considered non-attainment cities.
The campaign is being carried out through a variety of initiatives, such as:
- Monitoring and assessment of air quality in targeted cities and regions
- Development of action plans to reduce air pollution levels
- Implementation of mitigation measures, such as increasing the use of public transportation and promoting the use of cleaner technologies
- Awareness-raising activities such as workshops, training programs, and public awareness campaigns
Since the National Clean Air Campaign (NCAP) was introduced by the Center four years ago, researchers have concluded that progress has been slow and that pollution has only slightly decreased in most areas. It is an important step in addressing the issue of air pollution in India, and it is important for individuals, organizations, and communities to get involved and support the efforts to reduce air pollution and improve air quality. In order to achieve breathing air levels similar to WHO guideline levels during the following ten years, it is crucial that NCAP be made legally enforceable on responsible authorities and that interim (WHO interim targets) and long-term targets be defined. Furthermore, improving openness in financial allocation and utilisation, as well as tracking indicators through publicly available data on the PRANA online portal built by the CPCB, can be a step forward.