Action plan to reduce Air Pollution

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    In News

    • Delhi Chief Minister announced a 14-point action plan to reduce air pollution during the summer months with a focus on controlling dust pollution.

    Major Highlights 

    • The Delhi government will conduct a real-time apportionment study of 13 identified hotspots to find sources of pollution and solutions to curb them.
    • People will have to register to carry out construction work on land measuring more than 500 square meters. 
    • The government will increase green cover by planting 59 lakh saplings. 
    • Urban farming will also be increased and 400 workshops will be conducted and free training kits will be given to people.
    • The government is preparing a new policy to deal with industrial waste management and techniques to collect and scientifically dispose of industrial waste to curb industrial pollution.

    About Air pollution

    • It is contamination of the indoor or outdoor environment by any chemical, physical or biological agent that modifies the natural characteristics of the atmosphere.
    • Household combustion devices, motor vehicles, industrial facilities, and forest fires are common sources of air pollution.
    •  Pollutants of major public health concern include particulate matter, carbon monoxide, ozone, nitrogen dioxide, and sulfur dioxide. 

    Causes 

    • Certain gases in the atmosphere can cause air pollution. For example, in cities, a gas called ozone is a major cause of air pollution. 
      • Ozone is also a greenhouse gas that can be both good and bad for our environment. It all depends where it is in Earth’s atmosphere.
    • It is caused by solid and liquid particles and certain gases that are suspended in the air. 
      • These particles and gases can come from car and truck exhaust, factories, dust, pollen, mold spores, volcanoes, and wildfires. The solid and liquid particles suspended in our air are called aerosols.
    • Air pollution happens when solid and liquid particles—called aerosols—and certain gases end up in our air. 
    • Scenario in Delhi:  During winter, pollution stems from weather patterns, stubble burning, vehicle emissions, and open burning; whereas in summer, it is driven by landfill fires spurred by heat and blazes in areas with dry foliage.
      • Dust is one of the main causes of pollution during the summer months.

    Impacts 

    • Breathing in polluted air can be very bad for our health. Long-term exposure to air pollution has been associated with diseases of the heart and lungs, cancers, and other health problems. 
    • Outdoor and indoor air pollution cause respiratory and other diseases and are important sources of morbidity and mortality. 

    Steps Taken by Government

    • National Clean Air Programme (NCAP): The Government has launched the National Clean Air Programme (NCAP) as a long-term, a time-bound programme to reduce air pollution in a comprehensive manner with a target to achieve up to 40% reduction in PM10 concentration level by the year 2025-2026 w.r.t. baseline of 2017-18. 
    • The concept of LiFE: It was introduced by the Prime Minister at COP26 in Glasgow on 1 November 2021
      • LiFE envisions replacing the prevalent ‘use-and-dispose’ economy—governed by mindless and destructive consumption—with a circular economy, which would be defined by mindful and deliberate utilisation. 
    • Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs):  India updated its Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) – plans to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, promising to reduce the emissions intensity of GDP by 45% by 2030, from the 2005 level, and achieve 50% cumulative electric power installed capacity from non-fossil fuel-based energy resources by 2030.
    • Commission for Air Quality Management: The Commission has been set up for Air Quality Management in the National Capital Region and Adjoining Areas for better coordination, research, identification, and resolution of problems surrounding the air quality index and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.
    • Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP): It is a set of emergency measures that kick in to prevent further deterioration of air quality once it reaches a certain threshold in the Delhi-NCR region. 
    • The Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana Household LPG program and other schemes have helped to dramatically expand access to clean energy, especially for rural households.

    Way Ahead 

    • The air does not belong to any one State therefore all have to work in close coordination with neighbouring States to curb air pollution.
    • Policies to reduce air pollution offer a win-win strategy for both climate and health, lowering the burden of disease attributable to air pollution, as well as contributing to the near- and long-term mitigation of climate change.
    • The WHO also prescribed some steps to be taken by governments to improve the air quality and health.
      •  It urged countries to implement national air quality standards in line with the WHO’s guidelines, usage of clean household energy, and implementation of stricter vehicle emissions and efficiency standards among other measures. 

    Do you Know?

    • NASA’s high-resolution air pollution monitoring instrument TEMPO lifted atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida
    • TEMPO is the first funded project of NASA’s Earth Venture Instrument program, which includes small, targeted science investigations designed to complement NASA’s larger research missions.
      • It is part of the agency’s Earth System Science Pathfinder program. 

    Source: TH