CHENNAI: Chennai is the only major metropolitan city in the country that has been excluded from National Clean Air Programme (NCAP), which Union Environment Minister Harsh Vardhan launched on Thursday.
From Tamil Nadu, Thoothukudi makes the list of 102 non-attainment cities, which are considered to be most polluted with respect to ambient air. Other important metros like Bengaluru, Mumbai, Delhi, Pune, Kolkata and Hyderabad are all among the non-attainment cities.
As per the NCAP, a full copy of which is accessed by Express, the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) has identified a list of polluted cities in which the prescribed National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQs) are violated. These cities have been identified based on the ambient air quality data obtained between 2011-15 under the National Air Quality Monitoring Programme (NAMP). PM10 has been found to be exceeding in 94 cities consecutively for five years and NO2 is exceeding limits in five cities. PM2.5 data since 2015 indicate 16 cities as non-attainment cities. Besides, considering WHO-2018 ambient air quality database, 102 non-attainment cities are identified.
City-based environmentalists question the rationale behind Chennai being left out. In the first place, there are very limited CPCB monitors in Tamil Nadu. Though Chennai’s coast mitigated the city’s pollution to some extent, the city consistently breaches the permissible pollution levels. Continuous air quality monitors in Manali, Velachery and IIT-Madras record high pollution levels. “In fact, Chennai’s suburb Manali is one of the most critically polluted in India, as per the CPCB’s comprehensive environmental pollution index,” said environmentalist Shweta Narayanan.
Other tier-2 cities like Vellore, Cuddalore, Tirupur, which have industrial clusters, were also declared by CPCB as critically polluted long back. How is that all these cities are not part of NCAP, experts ask.