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Four international agencies are joining the government to fight air pollution in 102 cities



NEW DELHI: The poisonous air in Delhi can make headlines, but there is no doubt that the problem is India-wide. India underlines the urgent need to tackle the problem nationwide and has signed an agreement with four global agencies, including the World Bank and the German Development Agency (GIZ), to build capacity in all 102 polluted cities in the country.

In addition to the World Bank and GIZ, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and Bloomberg Philanthropies are the two other agencies that will assist states in combating air pollution in four different geographical areas.

"We have signed the agreements with these four agencies. They will provide technical assistance and help states build capacity in their respective cities. Each agency will be equipped with a geographical area for cooperation with cities, "Union Environment Secretary K. Mishra told TOI.

The Center has held several rounds of talks with these agencies in recent months, up to the plan to complete the nation's National Clean Air Program (NCAP) for 1

02 cities.

These are the cities that do not meet national air quality standards. The list includes Mumbai, Pune, Calcutta, Varanasi, Kanpur, Lucknow, Allahabad, Patna, Bengaluru, Chandigarh, Jaipur and Hyderabad.

It is expected that the NCAP will be announced shortly with specific general timelines for reducing emissions in these cities. It will be a long-term strategy at national level to comprehensively address the growing problem of air pollution across the country. Its goal is to have a plan to prevent, control and reduce air pollution in all 102 cities.

The highest number of cities in the list is in Maharashtra (17), followed by Uttar Pradesh (15), Punjab (9), Himachal Pradesh (7), Odisha and Madhya Pradesh (6 each), Assam, Andhra Pradesh and Rajasthan (5 each), Karnataka (4), Bihar, Chhattisgarh and Telangana (3 each), Gujarat, J & K, Nagaland and Uttarakhand (2 each) and Jharkhand, Delhi, Chandigarh, Meghalaya, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal ( 1 each).

The states and the Union Territories (UTs) have already been asked by the National Green Tribunal (NGT) to draw up city-specific plans by 31 December.

"To date, 80 cities, including all 17 from Maharashtra, have submitted their plans to the Central Environmental Protection Agency (CPCB). However, it will be reviewed by an expert committee before it is approved. These plans can be returned to states if they need to be fine-tuned, "one official said.

The action plans must be consistent with the assessment of the sustainability and distribution of these cities according to vehicle pollution, industrial emissions, level of construction activity and population density.

Fighting pollution from multiple sources, increasing the number of manual air quality monitoring stations, expanding the network of continuous air quality monitoring stations and establishing an air data center for data analysis, interpretation and dissemination via GIS platforms will be key components of the NCAP.

There will be a mechanism to develop a public complaint-rejection portal for the treatment of public complaints about air pollution. Cities need to develop infrastructures to report visible air pollution in a web portal via e-mail and SMS.


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