How Does Government Plan to Combat Pollution Crisis?
The present-day climate crisis has been building up over decades and stands as a major threat in years to come. Polluted skies and toxic air surround us no matter where we live and leave us to wonder if we could really have it any other way.
Over 99% of the population in India is exposed to pollute air whose PM 2.5 concentration levels exceed the standard 10-mg/cubic meter threshold set by the WHO. These statistics ring alarm bells every year but little has changed over the years.
The government has been investing in efforts, framing many short term and long-term measures to abate the crisis.
So What’s on the Agenda?
Here are a few interventions that have been rolled out to address the issue.
On Government’s Agenda
NCAP (National Clean Air Programme)
This is a long-term national level strategy launched in 2019 to tackle air pollution.
The programme aims at reducing air pollution by 20-30% by launching comprehensive mitigation actions for prevention. Initiatives aim to control and abate pollution levels besides augmenting air quality monitoring network across the country. Further it aims to strengthen awareness and capacity building activities. Other features include increasing number of monitoring stations in the country including rural monitoring stations, technology support.
In Delhi, the government launched a pilot project to tackle the smog problem that started operating on 3rd January 2020. The aim is to create a “clean air zone” around the area with an estimated 80% reduction in particulate matter, according to the experts. The towers work as large-scale air purifiers and are fitted with multiple layers of air filters. The height of the smog tower is 20ft and it aims at treating 2,50,000 to 6,00,000 cubic meter air per day.
GRAP (Graded Response Action Plan)
This was another plan implemented in the Delhi NCR region with the goal of improving collaborations among different agencies and pronounces the measures to be taken based on air quality on the basis of PM 2.5 and PM 10 in the atmosphere.
It classifies different grades based on air quality as: Emergency, Severe, Moderate Poor and Very Poor and has been prepared by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB). This classification helps in streamlining the efforts towards combating air pollution and makes clear the actions to be taken under different circumstances.
In addition to these, few other interventions include: phasing out vehicles older than 15 years, entire public transport has been switched over to CNG fuel mode, Installation of Emission Control System in air polluting industries, 500 PUCs being linked on the net so that daily reports can be downloaded and monitoring can be done, stringent emission norms for industries and thermal power stations.
A Long Way to Go
We may still have a long way to go with clear blue skies but these measures bring us a few steps closer to breathing less toxic air. While addressing a collective crisis, the contribution of each stakeholder makes a difference.
The government must play its part, but at the same time the citizens, industries, environmental agencies and all other stakeholders involved have to come forward and act responsibly.