National clean air programme to be finalised within four weeks: Supreme Court

The environment ministry today told the Supreme Court that a National Clean Air Programme (NCAP) to comprehensively deal with the rising air pollution levels across the country would be finalised within four weeks.

NCAP is a medium term national level strategy to tackle the increasing air pollution problem in India in a comprehensive manner and its overall objective includes evolving effective ambient air quality monitoring network across the country.

The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) told a three-judge bench comprising Justices Madan B Lokur, Kurian Joseph and Deepak Gupta that the NCAP would cover not only Delhi-National Capital Region (NCR) but also the cities where high pollution levels have been recorded.

Additional Solicitor General A N S Nadkarni, representing the ministry, told the bench that several pending issues relating to air pollution, including ban on pet coke, permitted use of pet coke in certain industries, availability of natural gas for power plants in NCR, were under consideration of the authorities and appropriate notifications would be issued soon.

He said the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) has issued directions to ensure “strict implementation” of the comprehensive action plan to tackle air pollution in Delhi-NCR.

The bench then asked the ministry to give publicity to NCAP and the graded response action plan (GRAP) for NCR to make people aware.

Nadkarni said that once the NCAP is finalised, publicity would be given to it. The government was already publicising the steps which have been taken. He said the ministry would file an affidavit in the apex court shortly.

The bench observed that certain issue related to the matter was pending before the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas (MoPNG) and asked the MoEF&CC to take up the matter with the MoPNG keeping in view the urgency of tackling the problem of air pollition in India.

The apex court, which posted the matter for hearing in April, had earlier asked the Centre to look into the problem of air pollution on a nationwide basis and not confine it to Delhi-NCR only.

The court is hearing a PIL filed in 1985 by environmentalist M C Mehta who had raised several issues relating to air pollution in the Delhi-NCR.

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