Parisar, along with LIFE co-organised a Workshop on ‘Air Pollution: Is the NCAP an adequate response to the crisis?’ to highlight and critique the National Clean Air Programme (NCAP) in Pune on the 14th of May 2018. The objective of the workshop was to highlight the action points of the NCAP and to come out with a joint submission to the MoEF before the 17th of May 2018. The programme has exhibited several gaps and is slipshod on several fronts. Several consultations were organized by various groups working on the issue, including The Legal Initiative for Forests and Environment (LIFE) all across the country.
Background to the National Clean Air Programme (NCAP)
India has been going through a phase of accelerated industrial activities for the past three decades. The associated growth in terms of industrialization and urbanization has led to manifold increase in pollution issues, more specifically air pollution issues. In recent years, medium and small towns and cities have also witnessed spurt in pollution thus getting fast reflected in the non-attainment cities of India. Air pollution has increasingly been becoming a serious concern, predominantly for health of the people. Air pollution emission issues are associated with many sectors which interalia include power, transport, industry, residential, construction, and agriculture. The impact of air pollution is not limited to health but it gets extended to agriculture and general well-being of human, floral and faunal population. Furthermore, since air pollution is not a localized phenomenon, the effect is felt in cities and towns far away from the source. Thus creating the need of inter-state and inter-city coordination in addition to multi-sectoral synchronisation.
In order to address the issue, Government had undertaken many significant steps which did help, but only to a certain extent. This was not sufficient and higher level of focused time bound initiatives at both city and rural level now appeared obligatory to address the issue in comprehensive manner at national level. It is in this context that the need for a National Clean Air Programme (NCAP)-India as a national level strategy for reduction in air pollution levels at both regional and urban scales was felt, the goal of which was to meet the prescribed annual average ambient air quality standards at all locations in the country in a stipulated time frame.
The main speakers at the one day workshop were Ritwick Dutta, Environment Lawyer (LIFE), Sunil Dahiya, Senior Campaigner, Greenpeace India, Dr. Manas Ray, Former Head, Department of Experimental Haematology, Chittaranjan National Cancer Institute, Mangesh Dighe, Environment Officer, Pune Municipal Corporation, and Sujit Patwardhan, Parisar.
Sunil Dahiya and Ritwick Dutta presenting at the workshop
The invitees were members of several civil society organizations, educational and research groups, academia, and interested individuals. There was a fair representation of the Press.
The first half of the workshop saw the speakers set a context to the NCAP discussion, wherein presentations on the different aspects of Air Pollution like legalities, health impacts, linkages of transportation and pollution, etc were made.
In the second half, the focus was on the proposed actions of the NCAP. The members present commented on various points, and there was enough deliberation and discussion to come out with a draft recommendations to be submitted to the MoEF. The letter with detail recommendation on the draft plan can be found here.
The presentations made by the various experts at the workshop can be found here;
Air Pollution and its effects on human health - Dr Manas Ranjan Ray,
Air Pollution - an issue beyond Delhi NCR -Sunil Dahiya, Senior Campaigner (Climate and Energy), Greenpeace India
Pune City- Status of Air Pollution - Mangesh Dighe, Environment Officer, Pune Municipal Corporation
Legal Action on Air Pollution - Ritwick Dutta, , Legal Initiative for Forest and Environment (LIFE)
Puneites breathe air that is 4x more dangerous than normal - Hindustan Times, 16th May 2018
Draft National Clean Air Programme meaningless: Experts - The Indian Express, 15th May 2018
NGOs find clean air plan weak on pollution checks - Times of India, 16th May 2018
शहरांमध्ये प्रदूषण वाढले - Maharashtra Times (Navi Mumbai edition), 16th May 2018