The National Ambient Quality Standards notify 12 pollutants, namely, PM10, PM2.5, SO2, NO2, O3, CO, NH3, benzene, lead, arsenic, nickel, BaP (particulate phase), to be extremely toxic. The ambient air quality is monitored regularly in 254 cities, towns, and industrial areas of the country by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), State Pollution Control Boards (SPCBs) / Pollution Control Committees (PCCs) and NEERI for three to eight pollutants. Analysis of these data indicates fluctuating trends on the basis of individual pollutants in ambient air. Out of the 46 million plus cities, ambient air quality data monitored under National Air Quality Monitoring Programme (NAMP) during 2015 available for 41 cities indicate that the values of SO2 are within the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) of 50 g/m3 (annual standard). The value of NO2 in nine cities (exceeded the NAAQS of 40 g/m3 (annual standard); while the value of PM10, in 38 cities do not comply with the NAAQS of 60 g/m3 (annual standard). The PM10 value in three cities complies with the National Standard of 60 g/m3 (annual standard). The report brought out by the Greenpeace India is on the basis of NASA data which is based on the extrapolated and constructed data without field validation.
The steps taken by the present government to mitigate air pollution in metropolitan cities in the country include the following:
- Notification of NAAQS envisaging 12 pollutants;
- Formulation of environmental regulations/statutes;
- Setting up of monitoring network for assessment of ambient air quality;
- Introduction of cleaner/alternate fuels like gaseous fuel, ethanol blend etc. replacing petrol and diesel; and,
- Promotion of cleaner production processes.
Taking note of the gravity of air pollution, the measures that have been put in place include:
- Launched National Air Quality index in April, 2015 starting with 10 cities and now extending to 23 cities;
- Implementation of Bharat Stage IV (BS-IV) norms in 63 selected cities and universalisation of BS-IV by 2017;
- Decision taken to leapfrog directly from BS-IV to BS-VI fuel standards by 1st April, 2020;
- Comprehensive review of all waste management rules including municipal solid waste, plastic waste, hazardous waste, bio-medical waste and electronic waste.
- Ban on burning of leaves, biomass, municipal solid waste;
- Promotion of public transport network of metro, buses, e-rickshaws and promotion of car pooling, pollution under control, lane discipline, vehicle maintenance;
- Revision of existing environmental standards and formulation of new standards for prevention and control of pollution from industries;
- Regular co-ordination meetings at official and ministerial level with Delhi and other State Governments within the NCR;
- Issuance of directions under Section 5 of Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 and under Section 18(1)(b) of Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974 and Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981; and,
- Installation of on-line continuous (24×7) monitoring devices by major industries.—Inputs from the Ministry of Environment, Forests & Climate Change, March 2016.