GS Paper 3
Syllabus: Environmental Pollution
Context: According to a CSE analysis, air pollution impacts villages and cities almost equally but pollution control measures target only urban India.
Findings of the analysis:
- Particulate matter (PM) 5 is an extremely potent air pollutant that can penetrate deep into the lungs and trigger a range of diseases including fatal ones.
- In 2022, the annual average of the most toxic air pollutant – ultrafine particulate matter (PM) 5, was as poor in rural India as in urban India (~46 microgrammes against the national limit is 40 microgrammes).
- The rural PM 5 pollution was found to be significantly high in Delhi (87 microgrammes) and states like Bihar, Haryana, UP, Rajasthan and West Bengal.
- The rural population suffers more than its urban counterpart when it comes to the length of losing life span due to exposure to the toxic pollutant.
Steps taken – The National Clean Air Plan (NCAP):
- It was declared in 2019, with a tentative national level target of 20-30% reduction of PM 2.5 and PM 10 concentration by 2024.
- So far it has released around Rs 9,000 crores mainly for 131 cities – called non-attainment ones – consistently going above the national air pollution limits.
Takeaways from the findings:
- They put under scanner the Union government’s policy of only investing in selected urban areas of the country for controlling toxic air pollution.
- Most rural areas do not even have any on-ground pollution measuring mechanism; forget about combating it.
- Air pollution is a transboundary problem that knows no borders.
- There is an urgent need to track pollution levels and develop policies for rural regions.
- A larger network of high-spatial-resolution systematic, robust and continuous air pollutants monitoring over the rural and non-urban regions is the need of the hour.
- Instead of selected cities, the air shade arrangement model needs to be pursued.
Conclusion: The air pollution issue in the country in the recent decade would not be resolved unless the rural parts are taken into account. Therefore, the time is ripe for formulating policy and action in rural India as well.
Prelims Links: UPSC 2022