Delhi will be receiving ‘green funds’ for the first time from the central government. The ‘green funds’ will be allocated under the National Clean Air Programme (NCAP). Delhi will be receiving over Rs 18 crore under the programme.
What are green funds?
‘Green funds’ are resources allocated under the NCAP to 132 cities across the country. These cities do not meet the prescribed national ambient air quality standards (NAAQS) of 60 µg/m³ (micrograms per meter cube) for PM 10 and 40 µg/m³ for PM2.5 matter.
The funds under the NCAP are intended to be used by these cities to reduce their pollutant concentration by 20-30 percent by the year 2024. This is the first time that Delhi would be getting the ‘green funds’ under the NCAP from the central government since the national level policy was unveiled in 2019.
"Delhi will get Rs 18.74 crore under NCAP. This is the first time it will be receiving funds under the programme since it started in 2019," an official told PTI.
"Fifty cities are already getting a good amount (Rs 4,400 in 2020-21 and Rs 2,217 crore in 2021-22) for pollution management from the Finance Commission. Therefore, the availability of funds for the remaining 82 cities under NCAP has improved. So, we decided to give some funds to Delhi, too," the official said.
Delhi’s latest data on pollutant concentration revealed that it had a concentration of 240 µg/m³ for PM10 particles and 84.1 µg/m³ for PM2.5 particles.
The recent revised World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines for air pollution has set a limit of 5 µg/m³ for PM2.5 of average concentration over 24 hours. The international guidelines from the global health body essentially classify almost the entirety of India as being severely polluted; which leads to loss of life expectancy due to a higher prevalence of heart diseases and stroke.
Delhi in particular holds the dubious record of being one of the most polluted cities in the world on multiple occasions, with its smoggy winters being a source of concern for residents every year.
Action against pollution
Apart from the ‘green funds’, the Arvind Kejriwal-led AAP government has also unveiled an action plan to tackle winter pollution in the city. Under the city’s action plan, the government will be trying to tackle stubble burning, vehicular emissions and dust as major sources of air pollution.
The city has already started handing out a biomatter decomposer solution -- which was developed by the Pusa Institute Of Technology -- to farmers so that they do not engage in stubble burning. The solution has been provided to farmers free of cost, and the AAP government has urged other northern states like Punjab and Haryana, which similarly suffer from winter pollution due to climatic confluences, to distribute the solution to farmers.
The city’s government will also be strongly enforcing its dust pollution norms while banning firecrackers and stopping the burning of garbage. Vehicular pollution will be tackled by rationing the time a car is on the road, thereby reducing traffic jams and congestion on roadways.
Additional smog towers will be set up across the city to provide fresh air to surrounding areas if further results show them to be effective. Additionally, pollution hotspots will be monitored on the Green Delhi app, with green war rooms being strengthened by 50 environmental engineers.
While the initiatives may reduce pollution in the short term, Delhi’s air would still be far more polluted than the national limits and far above those set by the WHO. Stronger action and policy changes will be needed to permanently eliminate most of the major sources of pollution in the area. As most of North India’s air pollution is caused due to a conflux of poor standards, high emissions and geographical confluences, such changes may take much longer to achieve.
(Edited by : Shoma Bhattacharjee)