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Better air quality in 96 cities in 2020 than 2019: Environment Ministry

New Delhi, Dec 17, 2021- The number of Indian cities showing better air quality increased to 96 in 2020 from 86 in 2019, the first National Apex Committee meeting of the National Clean Air Programme was told on Friday.

Expressing satisfaction at the number of cities showing better air quality, Environment, Forests and Climate Change Minister Bhupender Yadav said: “The air quality improvement efforts taken in recent years have shown positive trends in achievement of better air quality. However, a lot needs to be done and the need of the hour is to address the issue of air pollution in a comprehensive manner with the coordination and collaboration of all stakeholders.”

“Since different cities have different sets of factors contributing to air pollution in that region, therefore focusing on the airshed is important,” Yadav said.

The airshed approach involves taking into consideration all factors that are affected by and, in turn, affect the air pollution situation in a given geography. The approach has since last year been applied for Delhi-NCR and the same should be taken up by other cities, he said.

The first meeting of the National Apex Committee, under the NCAP, was held in hybrid mode, a release from the Environment, Forests and Climate Change Ministry said.

The NCAP was launched in 2019 and currently being implemented in targeted 132 cities, non-conforming to national ambient air quality standards consecutively for five years. Out of 132, as many as 124 cities include 34 million plus cities (MPCs)/urban agglomerations identified by the 15th Finance Commission. There are eight other million plus cities covered under it for receiving performance based grants for air quality improvement.

Under the NCAP, Rs 375.44 crore have been provided during 2019-20 to 2020-21 for taking up activities for improving the air quality in non-attainment cities and Rs 290 crore has been allocated to 82 cities for FY 2021-22.

The programme has Rs 700 crore allocation for 2021-2026. Further, the 15th Finance Commission has provided a special grant of Rs 4,400 crore to 42 million plus cities/urban agglomerations for FY 2020-21, while Rs 12,139 crore has been allocated for improvement in air quality of 42 million plus cities/urban agglomerations for 2021-2022 to 2025-26.

The NCAP focuses on preparation and implementation of national level action plans, state level action plans and city level action plans of these 132 cites. Under it, a Centre level Steering Committee, Monitoring Committee, and Implementation Committee has been constituted and periodic review of the implementation progress is conducted. Seven meetings of Implementation Committees, five of the Monitoring Committee and three of the Steering Committee have been conducted so far.

The Apex Committee meeting was attended by Union Minister of State for Environment, Ashwini Kumar Chaubey, Environment, Forest and Climate Change Secretary, R.P. Gupta; CPCB Chairman, Tanmay Kumar and other senior officers of the Ministry apart from almost 150 senior ranking officials and experts from the states and other knowledge partners, the release said.  (Agency)

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