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The Quest For Clean Air

Air pollution is costing lives. Too many of us are breathing dirty, toxic air and facing its direct consequences.

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‘Can India bear cost of Government’s apathy & inaction on air pollution?’ asks Greenpeace India.

New Delhi 12 October 2018| Taking suo motu action on a news report on the centre’s proposal to notify the National Clean Air Programme (NCAP), the National Green Tribunal (NGT) on 8th October 2018 asked the state and central governments to act together to reduce pollution in time bound manner and achieve National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) across the country. Greenpeace India hopes that this wrap from the NGT enables a quicker notification of the NCAP.

“A new trend seems to be emerging. Now, courts have to intervene at every step to ensure a policy is implemented to protect the interests of the citizens of India. Isn’t it the government’s mandate to implement policies without the intervention from the courts?” asks Sunil Dahiya, senior air pollution campaigner, Greenpeace India.

“Another trend we are witnessing is that the government is actively diluting environmental laws and arguing on behalf of polluting companies to enable them to continue to pollute,” he adds.

After much pressure from the public and the media, MoEFCC in April released the draft National Clean Air Program (NCAP). Even after five months, there is no sign of the program being finalised. When asked about the air pollution situation, centre and state governments start blaming each other. However, both MoEFCC and Ministry of Power took no action against polluting industries and coal power plants. On the contrary, they extended  the deadline for implementation of emissions standards for thermal power plants by another five years.

The court order dated 8th October 2018 [1] mentioned that a little progress has been made on finalizing NCAP, but it’s still far from what is required, given the the emergency situation we face today. The NGT observed that out of 102 nonattainment cities [2], plans from 73 cities were received. Of this, plans of 36 cities have been finalised, 37 are pending and 29 have not been submitted (as of September 2018). The order by NGT clearly highlights the need of measures such as, regulating number of vehicles and their parking and plying; regulating industries based on carrying capacity; and urgency to bring the standards of air quality within prescribed norms as soon as possible.

“It is also heartening to know that the Environment Minister is  concerned about the country’s image in the international arena. But the concern seems rather hollow as we continue to wait for the NCAP. It is disappointing how the minister is conveniently passing the buck to the state governments and is failing miserably to stay true to his commitment of notifying the NCAP by including time bound pollution reduction goals. As per his claims, the NCAP should have been notified long time back. Multiple reports site deadlines of June 5 and August 15, 2018,” says Dahiya.

The Centre now has to come out with the final NCAP after incorporating the action plans of the states and UTs. Funds for implementing the plans should be released accordingly.

Greenpeace India sincerely hopes that NGT’s intervention results in concrete action by the government and can help us create a breathable India by at-least comply to NAAQS by CPCB to start with.

[1]NGT Court Order:-

[2]RTI with list of 102 non-attainment cities

For further details-

Madhulika Verma, Senior Media Specialist, mverma@greenpeace.org ; 9971137736

Sunil Dahiya, Senior Campaigner, sdahiya@greenpeace.org ; 9013673250