National Clean Air Programme is the pride of India
What happens due to Air Pollution we all know. Air Pollution is the cause behind cancer, skin diseases, immunity disorders to eyes infections, it has very serious and grave effects on human health. Other than that, air pollution also plays an important role in the issue of climate change. Because Air Pollution plays a major role in disturbing the cycle of nature. At this time, it becomes necessary to target Air Pollution separately or to put up resistance by creating an exclusive system to fight this menace, this is the need of the hour. However, in many countries instead of fighting Air Pollution separately, it is treated as a minor issue affecting climate change. Due to which the success required to gain in the fight against Air Pollution is not achieved.
On the other hand, the developed nations have their own issues. When the world has become a global village, there, some of the nations need industrialization in such a way that they can survive in the international markets by producing the materials which would keep them alive and in demand in the global market. However, in their run for the development they put the issue of air pollution on back burner, due to which the populace of such developed nations suffer a lot due to Air Pollution.
If we talk about India, the PM2.5 particles in air is creating serious problems. There was a time when the rural areas were spared by the terror of PM2.5 particles. However, due to the fast pace of development and increase in the vehicles, highways, industries, construction, technological farming and electricity use, even the rural areas are now facing air pollution issues. One figure even states that only in the year 2019, 17 lac deaths have occurred due to illnesses because of Air Pollution. On the other hand, to fight PM2.5 and PM10 particles is not an easy task.
Advanced cities like Beijing and Seoul too had a hard time controlling PM2.5 and PM10 particles. After tremendous work in 5 years, they were able to reduce PM2.5 and PM10 by only 30%. Then, convincing and implementing measures of environmental conservation, to the masses who think they own the earth and they have every right to earn from it, happen what may happen, to give them lectures or bring in rules for such populace is not only difficult but, in some cases, unapplicable.
On the other hand, for India, being a developing nation, for controlling Air Pollution, to reduce manufacturing of certain items is not only challenging but, till some extent, not feasible. In between all this, India has taken a remarkable lead to address and fight air pollution. India has joined the elite list of countries where Air Pollution and Climate Change is considered different a issue. Air Pollution in India is not considered as a part of climate change, here it is addressed individually. And to fight against it the Government of India, passed a budget worth 400 crores by launching the “National Clean Air Program”. And throughout the country the issue was taken on a war footing and different programs were introduced with immediate effect.
Under the Government of India’s Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, “National Clean Air Program” was launched in the year 2019 and many programs within its framework were organized, which is a positive step in the right direction. Though India having so many states and with it different Socio-Political and geographical differences, it happened for the first time, that in the direction of quality management a certain time bound framework on national level was mobilized. In which, from 21 states, 2 union territories, 102 cities were taken under the data of the year 2011 to 2015 by the CPCB (Central Pollution Control Board). And the target was set that by the year 2024, the PM2.5 & PM10 particles will be reduced by atleast 20-30%.
Of course, on one hand many states and departments joining in this program and coordinating together to reach its common minimum programme, will have its share of issues to face, however with a budget of crores and different issues, the National Green Tribunal is moving ahead with great responsibility and taking regular reports from every state’s authority and project nodal agencies. Based on these inputs the NGT is taking important steps and giving inputs and wherever required it is also taking legal steps. Due to which in every state the National Clean Air Program is rapidly progressing.
Till the year 2024 whether the National Clean Air Program will meet its target, is another issue. However National Clean Air Program is transforming many states towards green energy, which is a plausible fact. Speaking only about Gujarat, the common man has smoothly accepted the concept of E-Vehicles. Where in some states converting public transport to E-Vehicles is being reviewed and discussed. And how to meet the demands in future is under discussion as in future public transport will gain popularity which will help in reducing carbon footprint.
Even though firm steps are taken toward National Air Quality Program, this program is not covered under any Act. When many states and government agencies are involved in this program it will be good if this program is covered under an Act, so that it can be followed seriously and progress can be done. Because public health should be the primary issue for any country and in these times Air Pollution is the largest enemy of public health. And hence, if National Clean Air Program is launched in India and positive steps are taken to making it successful is a thing to be proud of.
Such programmes prove two things, that along with, industrialization, urbanization and technological advancement, equal priority is given to nature, human health and environmental protection. In that direction funds worth crores are already provided and in an innovative manner work is progressing. Looking at this it seems that the dream of our Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi that by year 2070 India will be carbon free seems to be realizing, and India will command the top position in Climate Action too.
By Viral Desai
(The author is a known environmentalist and the Pioneer of Satyagraha Against Pollution movement.)