Delhi misses 2024 NCAP target, PM levels still high | Latest News Delhi - Hindustan Times
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Delhi misses 2024 NCAP target, PM levels still high

Jan 10, 2024 10:33 PM IST

The Capital has only managed to bring down its annual PM2.5 concentration by 6% in the last five years and the PM10 concentration by 4%

Five years after the National Clean Air Programme (NCAP) was launched on January 10, 2019, Delhi has failed to meet its 2024 target of bringing down the annual PM2.5 and PM10 concentrations by 20-30%. According to an analysis by Climate Trends and Respirer Living Sciences , the Capital has only managed to bring down its annual PM2.5 concentration by 6% in the last five years and the PM10 concentration by 4%. Among the 131 non-attainment cities for which such targets were set by the Centre, Delhi is the most polluted in terms of annual PM2.5 concentration, while it is currently second, behind Patna, in terms of the annual PM10 concentration, the data showed.

An anti-smog gun sprays water into the atmosphere to reduce dust pollution at Anand Vihar in New Delhi on January 6. (Sakib Ali/HT Photo)
An anti-smog gun sprays water into the atmosphere to reduce dust pollution at Anand Vihar in New Delhi on January 6. (Sakib Ali/HT Photo)

The 131 cities were identified by the Centre as non attainment cities, as they did not meet the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS), for the period of 2011-15. The country’s current annual average safe limits for PM2.5 and PM10 are 40 micrograms/per cubic metre (ug/m3) and 60 ug/m3, respectively.

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The analysis was based on the Central Pollution Control Board’s data from the continuous ambient air quality monitoring stations in each of these 131 cities. Only those stations where pollution data was available for at least half of the year, or six months, were considered in the analysis.

Out of the 131 cities, Varanasi exhibited the most significant decrease in PM2.5 and PM10 levels. It showed a 72% reduction in PM2.5 (from 96 ug/m3 to 26.9 ug/m3) and a 69% reduction in PM10 (from 202.5 ug/m3 to 62.4 ug/m3), the analysis said.

The analysis showed that Delhi recorded an annual PM2.5 concentration of 102 ug/m3 in 2023, the highest among the 131 cities. This was followed by Patna (89.5 ug/m3), Faridabad (87.9 ug/m3) and Noida and Muzaffarpur, which had an annual concentration of 83.6 ug/m3 each.

Delhi’s annual PM2.5 concentration in 2019 was 108.4 ug/m3. Among the five most polluted cities (by PM2.5 levels) , the biggest dip in annual concentration was seen in Patna, where PM2.5 levels have dropped by around 25.2% — from 119.6 ug/m3 in 2019 to 89.5 ug/m3 by the end of 2023.

NCAP’s initial target was to reduce PM2.5 and PM10 levels by 20-30% by 2024. This was later revised by the Centre in September 2022 to 40% by 2026.

Around 9,649.99 crore has so far been released by the Centre under NCAP to help these 131 cities meet their target, the analysis said.

In terms of PM10 concentration, Patna was the most polluted by the end of 2023, recording annual levels of 212.1 ug/m3, followed by Delhi (208.4 ug/m3), Faridabad (196.4 ug/m3), Noida (194 ug/m3) and Ghaziabad (184.3 ug/m3).

Among the five most polluted cities, the biggest improvement has come in Ghaziabad, where the annual PM10 concentration has dropped by 24.2% since 2019. The annual PM10 levels there were 243.3 ug/m3 in 2019 and improved to 184.3 ug/m3 by the end of 2023.

Delhi’s annual PM10 levels in 2019 were recorded at 216.3 ug/m3. Dust is the biggest contributor to PM10 levels and emissions from vehicles, power plants, industry, and biomass burning, to PM2.5 levels.

Aarti Khosla, Director, Climate Trends, said that, on the whole, NCAP has made noteworthy progress, with notable reductions in both PM2.5 and PM10 levels seen across most cities. However, a number of cities were still well off the 40% reduction target for 2026.

“Despite positive strides, challenges still exist, with some urban areas facing an uptick in pollution concentration too. The programme’s revised goal of a 40% reduction in particulate matter by 2026 reflects a commitment to ambitious environmental targets, but more efforts are needed to meet these targets,” she said, adding that strengthening monitoring networks will give cities a clearer and improved picture of the problem, allowing for better mitigation measures.

CPCB’s air quality index is calculated based on eight individual pollutants, which includes PM2.5 and PM10. The other six pollutants are NO2, SO2, CO, O3, NH3, and Pb. The AQI is based on the 24-hourly average concentration value for all pollutants except CO and O3, for which an hourly value is considered. The highest reading amongst these eight pollutants is considered as the day’s AQI.

On more than 300 days in a year, either PM2.5 or PM10 are the lead pollutant for the day. Gases such as O3, NO2 and CO emerge as lead pollutants on hot summer days and in the monsoon months, when particulate matter settles down due to rain. AQI is being measured across the country since April 2015.

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