The NGT has asked the Central Pollution Control Board and states to submit the status of State Action Plans (SAPs) by October 10 to combat air pollution.
Directives have been issued by the southern, eastern, and central benches of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) to the states from the respective regions.
Upholding the contention that the National Clean Air Programme (NCAP) is not just for non-attainment cities, the southern bench of the NGT has asked the CPCB and Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, and Telangana to submit their comprehensive SAPs by October 10.
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The NCAP is a national-level strategy launched by the Union Environment, Forests, and Climate Change Ministry in 2019 with comprehensive mitigation strategies and an effective ambient air quality monitoring network.
Cities are declared non-attainment if they consistently do not meet the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for PM 10 (Particulate matter 10 microns or less in diameter) or NO2 (nitrogen dioxide) over a 5-year period.
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The NCAP has identified a total of 132 non-attainment cities across the country and a number of states are working towards city-specific action plans, many of which are already ready, says a media report.
The states are also supposed to prepare the SAPs as part of the NCAP.
The report quoted Ritwick Dutta of the Legal Initiative for Forests and Environment (LIFE), who represented the petitioners, as saying that they filed petitions at all the benches – southern, eastern, central, western, and the principal bench (for northern region) about 2 months back to push for preparation of SAPs as part of the NCAP.
Dutta said: “While the southern bench on September 16 gave October 10 as deadline for states in south India to come up with SAPs, the eastern bench at Kolkata on August 24 had sought responses from the CPCB, the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, states of Jharkhand, Bihar, West Bengal, and Odisha as to why their SAPs is not yet prepared?
“We also had a similar directive from the central bench at Bhopal that sought to know the status for central states,” Dutta added.
It has been reported that the direction of the southern bench of NGT came on a plea that cited a study report of Lungs Care Foundation, in coordination with Pulmocare Research and Education (PURE) Foundation, which claimed that air pollution is causing lung diseases, obesity, asthma, and other diseases, especially in adolescents.
The tribunal order said, “So, under such circumstances, the governments are also directed to come up with a proper action plan, as most of the sources of air pollution related to different departments, in respect of which policy decision will have to be taken at the state government.”