National Clean Air Programme (NCAP) - UPSC Notes

The National Clean Air Programme or NCAP is a government programme launched by the Union Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change in 2019.

Government schemes and programmes are very important for the UPSC exam. The National Clean Air Programme or NCAP is an important scheme since it comes under the category of environment. Hence, this topic is important for both polity and environment segments of the UPSC syllabus.

Recent Update about National Clean Air Programme (NCAP) 

National Green Tribunal (NGT) has proposed directives to the Ministry of Environment to modify the NCAP which has proposed to reduce the air pollution 20-30 per cent of air pollution by 2024.

Read about National Green Tribunal in the linked article.

Aspirants can cover the topics mentioned in the UPSC Syllabus by following the below-mentioned links:

NCAP UPSC Notes Download PDF Here

National Clean Air Programme (NCAP)

  • The programme is a pollution control initiative with a major goal of reducing the concentration of coarse and fine particulate matter in the atmosphere by at least 20% by the year 2024.
  • The programme aims:
    • To expand the national air quality monitoring network.
    • To build capacity for air pollution management
    • To raise public awareness about the hazards of air pollution
  • The NCAP also aims to have a feasible plan for the prevention, management and control of air pollution.
  • At the national level, the implementation of the programme will be done by an apex committee at the Environment Ministry level. At the state level, committees at the Chief Secretary level will oversee the implementation of the scheme.
  • The NCAP is a joint collaboration between:
    • Ministry of Road Transport and Highways
    • Ministry of New and Renewable Energy
    • Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas
    • Ministry of Heavy Industry
    • Ministry of Health
    • Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs
    • Ministry of Agriculture
    • Central Pollution Control Board
    • NITI Aayog
  • The programme also ropes in academia, philanthropic foundations, civil society, etc.
  • The Smart Cities Mission of the Central Government will also be leveraged to start clean air programmes for the 43 smart cities among the 102 cities.

Cities Covered under NCAP

For this initiative, 102 cites from 23 UTs and states have been chosen. Barring Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru and Kolkata, all the cities selected are tier 2 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 has the maximum number of cities chosen for the programme.

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NCAP Initiatives

The initiatives under NCAP are listed below:

  1. The National Air Quality Monitoring Network will be augmented.
  2. Air Quality Management Plan for the cities chosen.
  3. Indoor Air Pollution Monitoring & Management
  4. National Emission Inventory – this is an inventory of the quantity of pollutants discharged into the air.
  5. Network of Technical Institutions
  6. Technology Assessment Cell
  7. International cooperation including the sharing of best practices with respect to abatement of air pollution.

NCAP Evaluation

Experts opine that the progress with respect to achieving the targets under this programme is slow. Even at the time of the programme’s launch, there was heavy criticism that the targets set were not legally binding. 

In the winter of 2019, central and state governments came under fire for the deterioration of the air quality in Delhi and surrounding areas. Stubble burning was also an issue and the country’s apex court also pulled up governments for this issue. Read more on this in CNA dated Nov 28, 2019.

Even though the launch of the NCAP is a step in the right direction, effective implementation of the programme is key to achieving the targets set under it. There has to be good collaboration between all the stakeholders for this and more importantly, there should be strong political will as well. 

Air pollution is no longer an unseen enemy, its harmful effects are affecting lives every day and it is seen physically in many cities of the country. Sufficient investment is required in terms of money and effort to curb pollution, as this will go a long way in significantly reducing government spending on public health.

Read about Stubble burning that is also a recurring topic in the news in the linked article.

NGT’s Directives to NACP

  1. To reduce the timeline – As under NACP, the ministry proposed to reduce air pollution by 20-30 percent till 2024; NGT has directed to reduce it.
  2. In place of 20-30 percent of air pollution reduction; the target percentage should be increased.
  3. Make a shift to e-vehicles and CNG vehicles.
  4. To take a review of:
    • Intensification of the public transport system
    • Mechanical cleaning of roads
    • Enhancement of public parking facilities
    • Improvement in fuel quality, and
    • Traffic management
  5. State pollution control boards to assess and instal Ambient Air Quality Monitoring Systems within six months.
  6. Central Pollution Control Board to design a model for source apportionment and carrying capacity assessment within two months which may be replicated for all the non-attainment cities.
    • What is Source Apportionment: It is the practice of deriving information about pollution sources and the amount they contribute to ambient air pollution levels.
    • What is Carrying Capacity: It addresses the question as to how many people can be permitted into any area without the risk of degrading the environment there.
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