New Delhi: With the aim of improving the air quality by 20-30 per cent in the coming five years, the Government has launched the National Clean Air Programme (NCAP).

Launching the programme, Union Environment Minister Harsh Vardhan said while the plan will not be legally binding, the focus would be on reducing air pollution concentration, enhancing pollution monitoring networks and awareness activities.

“Collaborative and participatory approach involving relevant central ministries, state governments, local bodies and other stakeholders with focus on all sources of pollution forms the crux of the programme. Though the plan will be collaborative and participatory in nature, it will not be legally binding on states.

“We will also utilise the Smart Cities Mission to launch the National Clean Air Programme (NCAP) in 43 of the 102 non-attainment cities which did not meet the annual PM 2.5 and PM 10 national standard from 2011 to 2015,” Vardhan was quoted as saying by PTI.

“An amount of Rs 300 crore has been sanctioned by the Ministry of Finance for the purpose. A tentative national level target of 20 to 30 per cent reduction of PM 2.5 and PM 10 concentration by 2024 is proposed under the NCAP. This is keeping 2017 as the base year for the comparison of the concentration,” he said.

Particulate matter (PM) 2.5 refers to particles in the air with a diameter of less than 2.5 micrometres and PM10 level is about particles with a diameter of less than 10 micrometres.

The NCAP will be a five year action plan with 2019 as the first year. “Significant outcome in terms of air pollution initiatives are visible only in the long-term and hence, the programme may be extended to a longer time horizon after a mid-term review of the outcomes,” the environment minister said.

Ministries of road transport and highways, petroleum and natural gas, renewable energy and housing and urban affairs would be working in tandem for the programme. The programme will have an apex committee under the Environment Ministry and a committee at the chief secretary level in the states.

“Other features of NCAP include an 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 and specific sectoral interventions,” Mishra said.