HYDERABAD: The 43 plantation drives conducted under the National Clean Air Programme (NCAP) in Hyderabad in 2019 to curb air pollution have proved ineffective as they were poorly planned, claims a study by the Legal Initiative for Forest and Environment (LIFE).
In January 2019, the NCAP launched time-bound action plans for mitigating pollution from various sectors. Under this, 122 non-attainment cities, including Hyderabad, were identified by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) where the permissible National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) were violated.
To control the air pollution in these cities, an extensive plantation drive was planned as trees mitigate air pollution by absorbing pollutants via leaf stomata. Some gaseous pollutants are also removed via plant surface.
Unfortunately, in Hyderabad, the drive lacked scientific approach, proper planning and did not fulfill the NCAP’s objective, the study, released on Tuesday, revealed. To reduce air pollution, the NCAP had proposed plantations at the cities’ hotspots where high pollution levels were recorded. The study claimed that only 2.3 per cent of the plantation area in Hyderabad was near a pollution hotspot. The remaining were either in moderately or less polluted areas.
Of the total 43 sites, only one area fell in the grid where particulate matter (PM) 2.5 emissions are the highest — between 100 and 200. PM 2.5 comprise deadly pollutants which are smaller in size and can penetrate through the lungs.
However, in terms of the selection of species, Hyderabad performed better as it followed the three-storied community plantations with 58 herb/shrubs species and 59 tree species.
The study, which was conducted for Korba (Chhattisgarh), Hyderabad, Delhi, Agra, Chandigarh and Varanasi, analyses the work done under the NCAP’s plantation initiative that was based on the Right To Information (RTI) responses from various departments.
‘2.3% of plantation area near hotspot’
Only 2.3 per cent of the plantation area was near a pollution hotspot. The remaining plantation areas were either in moderately or less polluted areas, said the Legal Initiative for Forest and Environment (LIFE) study