MADURAI: The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), as part of the National Clean Air programme (NCAP), has identified Madurai as one of the 124 'non attainment cities' in the country where air pollution exceeds the national standards.
The Central government launched the programme in 2019. Taking into account the available international experiences and national studies, the tentative national level target of 20 per cent to 30 per cent reduction of PM 2.5 and PM 10 concentration by 2024 was proposed under NCAP. Data from 2017 was taken as the base for the comparing concentration. Thoothukudi was listed under the category of non-attainment cities in 2019, followed by Tiruchy and Madurai in the subsequent years.
According to the data accessed by TNIE, though the air quality index (AQI) was mostly between good and satisfactory levels in Madurai (Good: 0 to 50 AQI: Satisfactory 50 to 100 AQI), the PM10 (Particulate matter that is 10 microns or less in diameter) has exceeded the annual national ambient air quality (NAAQ) standards.
Official sources told TNIE that Madurai Municipal Corporation had submitted the city action plan to combat the air pollution to CPCB earlier this year. The CPCB in a communication dated February 2, sought for a report on the funds required for implementation of city action plan from 2021 to 2026, financial status for implementation of city action plan and the city air quality. Following the directions of Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB), City Engineer S Arasu was appointed as the nodal officer for implementation of NCAP in the district.
Further, the CPCB, in a recent communication, stated that the Fifteenth Finance Commission has allocated a fund of Rs 4,400 crore as grant-in-aid on population basis to urban local bodies of 42 Million-plus urban cities to augment actions for air quality improvement for a period of five years commencing from April 1 2020.
"A sum of Rs 233 crore would also be sanctioned over a period of five years for focused action to reduce air pollution levels in cities in the State. Out of the total fund, Rs 31 crore and Rs 21 crore will be for Madurai and Tiruchy respectively," sources added.