International Day of Clean Air for Blue Skies Swachh Vayu Diwas

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    In News

    • Recently, the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change organized the 3rd International Day of Clean Air for blue skies as Swachh Vayu Diwas to raise awareness and facilitate actions to improve air quality under National Clean Air Programme (NCAP).

    History

    • The United Nations General Assembly during its 74th session in 2019 adopted a resolution to hold an International Day of Clean Air for Blue Skies on September 7. 
    • The resolution also prompted the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to promote the day’s observance in collaboration with other appropriate stakeholders. 
    • All the member countries are hosted by the United Nations to commemorate the International Day of Clear Air for Blue Skies.

    Theme

    • The focal theme of the third International Day of Clean Air for Blue Skies is the ‘Air We Share’. 

    Significance

    • Attendees share their views and examine the data on the impacts of air pollution and air quality around the globe.
    • It highlights the need for collaborative responsibility and action by understanding that the presence of air pollution extends beyond national boundaries. 
    • The LiFE mission stated by the PM at COP 26 in Glasgow needs to be taken forward not only across the country but all over the world. 
      • The meaning of LiFE Mission is that there should be a mindful utilization of resources.
    • The National Clean Air Mission program is to address the problems of air pollution at the regional level keeping in mind the peculiarities of different regions. 
      • The solutions to this issue have to be socio– economic. 
      • In the National Clean Air Mission program, new startups should be promoted to work towards innovative solutions.

    Steps we can take to preserve clean air

    • Recycle and reuse.
    • Turn off the lights when not in use. 
    • Use public transport.
    • Say no to plastic use.
    • Implement afforestation.
    • Avoid burning crackers.

    National Clean Air Programme (NCAP)

    • It was launched by the MoEFCC in 2019 as a long-term, time-bound, national level strategy that features:
      • Making determined efforts to deal with the air pollution problem across the country in a comprehensive manner.
      • Achieving 20% to 30% reduction target in Particulate Matter concentrations by 2024 where 2017 is kept as the base year for the comparison of concentration.
      • Identification of 122 non-attainment cities across the country based on the 2014-2018 Air Quality data.
        • Non- Attainment Cities are the cities which do not meet the National Ambient Air Quality Standards.
      • Preparation of the city specific action plans including measures to strengthen the monitoring network, reduce vehicular/industrial emissions, increase public awareness etc.
      • Implementation of the city specific action plans to be regularly monitored by Committees at Central and State level namely Steering Committee, Monitoring Committee and Implementation Committee.
      • Facilitating collaborative, multi-scale and cross-sectoral coordination between the relevant central ministries, state governments and local bodies.
      • Establishing a right mix with the existing policies and programmes which include the National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC) and other government initiatives related to climate change.
      • Constant change, activity and progress to get evolved based on the additional scientific and technical information as they emerge.
      • Increasing number of monitoring stations in the country including rural monitoring stations, technology support.
      • Emphasis on awareness and capacity building initiatives.
      • Setting up of certification agencies for monitoring equipment, source apportionment studies, emphasis on enforcement, specific sectoral interventions etc.

    Objective of NCAP 

    • To augment and evolve effective and proficient ambient air quality monitoring networks across the country.
    • To have efficient data dissemination and public outreach mechanisms for timely measures for prevention and mitigation of air pollution.
    • To have a feasible management plan for prevention, control and abatement of air pollution.

    NGT’s directions on NCAP

    • Earlier, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has directed the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) to modify the National Clean Air Programme (NCAP).
    • NCAP proposes a 20-30% reduction of air pollution by 2024.
    • NGT made the following direction:
      • Deadline to reduce air pollution by 20-30% by 2024 needs to be reduced.
      • Increase the target of reduction.
      • Review the action in terms of shift to e-vehicles and CNG vehicles, intensifying public transport systems, mechanical cleaning of roads, improvement in fuel quality, etc.
      • Ensure the assessment and installation of the requisite number of Ambient Air Quality Monitoring Systems within six months.

    Way Forward/ Steps needed to make it more effective

    • Need stronger mandate: It is necessary to create a firm mandate with a strong legal backup for cities and regions to implement NCAP in a time bound manner for effective reduction.
    • Higher ambitions: It needs to be told with a clear rider that NCAP should not become only a top-down prescriptive approach.
      • The NCAP will have to create enough room for tighter action that can be even stronger than the common minimum national programme as defined by NCAP.
    • Need litmus test for effectiveness: NCAP has certainly helped kick start the much-awaited good practice of setting air pollution reduction targets.
      • It is necessary to find and outline our very own regulatory and market-based solutions without being draconian.
    • Need fiscal strategy: NCAP cannot be sustainable nor can it gain strength or make a difference on a longer-term basis if it does not have a clear fiscal strategy.
    • For successful implementation of the action plan, there is a paramount need for cooperation and coordination among state agencies and technical supervision by expert Institutions of Repute.
    • Best Practices and success stories of 8 cities under NCAP are:
      • Pune and Bangalore on sustainable transport curbing vehicular emissions
      • Srinagar, Tuticorin, &Varanasi on solid waste management
      • Akola on sewage management
      • Hyderabad on developing 33% greenery to act as carbon sink
      • Lucknow for Integrated Control and Command Centre monitoring. 

    Source: PIB