Air pollution: Delhi to get Rs. 18cr as 'Green Fund'
The Centre has decided to sanction a "Green Fund" worth Rs. 18 crore for Delhi under the National Clean Air Programme (NCAP) to mitigate air pollution. This is the first time Delhi will receive funds under NCAP to reduce critical gaps in air pollution management. NCAP is a national-level strategy designed to reduce PM2.5 and PM10 concentrations by 2024. Here are more details.
Delhi didn't receive funds earlier as it had other resources
Speaking to PTI, an official said that Delhi will get Rs 18.74 crore under NCAP for the first time since it "started in 2019." An Environment Ministry official said funds were not given to Delhi earlier as it had "other resources available." These resources included a green cess levied on diesel vehicles above 2,000 cc and a pollution tax on commercial vehicles entering Delhi.
Funds availability under NCAP improved this year: Official
The official maintained that the availability of funds under NCAP improved this year, which is why they decided to give funds to Delhi, too. "Fifty cities are already getting a good amount..for pollution management from the Finance Commission...Therefore, the availability of funds...for the remaining 82 cities...under NCAP has improved." NCAP covers 132 non-attainment cities, which don't meet the prescribed national ambient air quality standards.
What is NCAP?
Started in 2019, NCAP aims to induce a 20% to 30% reduction in PM2.5 and PM10 concentrations by 2024, with 2017 as the base year for comparison. The cities have been identified based on the ambient air quality data obtained during the 2011-2015 period under the National Air Monitoring Programme. This year, a total of Rs. 290 crore is available for 82 cities.
Delhi's PM10 average stood at 0.24 mg/cubic meter in 2017
Notably, Delhi's annual PM10 average stood at 240 micrograms per cubic meter in 2017 against the acceptable standard of 60 micrograms per cubic meter. The acceptable annual standard for PM2.5 is 40 micrograms per cubic meter.
How will NCAP fund be utilized?
According to officials, NCAP funds will be utilized to cater to critical gaps in air pollution wherever there is an inadequacy of funds available from other resources. The rest of the funding is to be mobilized through the convergence of schemes, the official added. Funds for bigger projects such as management of construction and demolition waste are allocated under the Swachh Bharat Urban program.
Kejriwal to announce 'Winter Action Plan' soon
Meanwhile, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal will soon announce a "Winter Action Plan" to tackle air pollution in the national capital. The plan focuses on 10 key areas, including stubble burning, pollution hotspots, working of smog towers, and vehicular and dust pollution. Delhi has also imposed a strict ban on firecrackers till January 1, 2022. It has further issued guidelines to control dust pollution.