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National Clean Air Programme (NCAP)

Topics Covered: Conservation related issues.

National Clean Air Programme (NCAP):


The National Green Tribunal has slammed the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) over its report on the National Clean Air Programme (NCAP) which proposes 20-30% reduction of air pollution by 2024.

What’s the issue?

MoEF had recently informed the NGT that a committee has concluded that 20-30% pollutant reduction under the NCAP seems realistic.

  • The Ministry had further said that pollution could not be controlled except to the extent of certain per cent.

However, the NGT has disapproved this submission saying that the MoEF’s view was against the constitutional mandate under Article 21 and also against statutory mandate.

Observations made by the NGT:

Right to Clean Air stood recognised as part of Right to Life and failure to address air pollution was denial of Right to Life.

The enforcement of ‘Sustainable Development’ principle and ‘Public Trust Doctrine’ required stern measures to be adopted to give effect to the mandate of international obligations for which the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 and other laws had been enacted.

What does the NCAP say on this? What are the issues?

Under the NCAP, the target is to achieve norms in 10 years and reduce load to the extent of 35% in first three years with further reduction of pollution later.

  • This meant for 10 years pollution would remain unaddressed which is too long period of tolerating violations when clean air was Right to Life.
  • Further, it is also not clear what type of pollutants or all pollutants would be reduced.
  • Besides, in 2019, the number of Non-Attainment Cities (NACs) has gone up from 102 to 122.

Need of the hour:

  1. Violation of laid down air pollution levels resulting in large number of deaths and diseases needed to be addressed expeditiously.
  2. Targeted time of reduction of pollution loads needed to be reduced and planned steps needed to be sternly implemented on the ground.

About the National Clean Air Programme:

Launched by the Union Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change in 2019.

It was not notified under the Environment Protection Act or any other Act.

It is envisaged as a scheme to provide the States and the Centre with a framework to combat air pollution.

  • It has a major goal of reducing the concentration of coarse (particulate matter of diameter 10 micrometer or less, or PM10) and fine particles (particulate matter of diameter 2.5 micrometer or less, or PM2.5) in the atmosphere by at least 20% by the year 2024, with 2017 as the base year for comparison.

Who all will participate?

Apart from experts from the industry and academia, the programme will be a collaboration between the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas, Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, Ministry of Heavy Industry, Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Health, NITI Aayog, and Central Pollution Control Board.

Which cities will fall under this?

Initially, 102 cities from 23 States and UTs were chosen as non-attainment cities. With the exception of Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Bengaluru, most of those chosen are tier two cities.

  • The cities were selected on the basis of the ambient air quality data from the National Air Quality Monitoring Programme (NAMP) of 2011 – 2015.
  • Maharashtra had the maximum number of cities chosen for the programme.



Prelims Link:

  1. When was NCAP launched?
  2. Participants in NCAP.
  3. What are non- attainment cities?
  4. Goals set under NCAP.
  5. What is public trust doctrine?

Mains Link:

Discuss the significance of NCAP.

Sources: the Hindu.