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Biodiversity & Environment

Improved Air Quality of Indian Cities

  • 08 Sep 2021
  • 4 min read

Why in News

Recently, the Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, while speaking at the International Day of Clean Air For Blue Skies, informed that the number of cities with improved air quality had increased.

  • On the occasion, he also inaugurated the first functional Smog Tower at Anand Vihar in Delhi and launched Portal for Regulation of Air-pollution or ‘Prana’.
  • Earlier, a Smog Tower was installed in Delhi’s Connaught Place and India’s Tallest Air Purifier was also inaugurated in Chandigarh.

Key Points

  • Air Quality Status:
    • In 2020:
      • Cities with improved air quality had increased to 104 in 2020 from 86 in 2018.
    • From 2015-2019:
      • Particulate Matter (PM) 10 levels: 23 cities marking a “decreasing trend”, 239 cities a “fluctuating trend” & 38 cities an “increasing trend”.
      • PM 2.5 levels: 11 cities showed a decreasing trend, 79 cities a fluctuating trend and 9 cities an increasing trend.
  • Reason for Improvement:
    • Covid-19 related lockdown had resulted in a “temporary improvement” of air quality in many cities due to closure of industries, fewer vehicles plying, drop in construction activities and absence of human activities.
    • Government initiatives to tackle air pollution also helped in improving air quality in recent years.
  • Prana Portal:
    • It was launched under the National Clean Air Programme (NCAP) in Non-Attainment Cities (NAC), cities which didn’t meet Ambient Air Quality Standards under NCAP.
      • It is targeted to achieve 20-30% reduction in particulate matter (PM10 and PM2.5) concentrations across the country by 2024.
    • It will support tracking of physical as well as financial status of city air action plan implementation, and disseminate information on air quality to the public.
  • Related Initiatives:
    • System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research:
      • Known as "SAFAR", for greater metropolitan cities of India to provide location specific information on air quality in near real time.
    • Air Quality Index:
      • AQI is a tool for effective communication of air quality status to people in terms, which are easy to understand.
      • AQI has been developed for eight pollutants viz. PM2.5, PM10, Ammonia, Lead, nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, ozone, and carbon monoxide.
    • For Reducing Vehicular Pollution:
      • The introduction of BS-VI vehicles, push for Electric Vehicles (EVs), Odd-Even as an emergency measure and construction of the Eastern and Western Peripheral Expressways to reduce vehicular pollution.
    • New Commission for Air Quality Management:
      • It is made for better coordination, research, identification, and resolution of problems related to air quality in the National Capital Region (NCR) and adjoining areas.
    • Subsidy to farmers for buying Turbo Happy Seeder (THS) which is a machine mounted on a tractor that cuts and uproots the stubble, in order to reduce stubble burning.

Particulate Matter

  • About:
    • Also called particle pollution, a term for a mixture of solid particles and liquid droplets found in the air. It causes respiratory problems and also reduces visibility.
    • It includes:
      • PM10: inhalable particles, with diameters that are generally 10 micrometers and smaller; and
      • PM2.5: fine inhalable particles, with diameters that are generally 2.5 micrometers and smaller.
  • Sources of PM:
    • Some are emitted directly from a source, such as construction sites, unpaved roads, fields, smokestacks or fires.

Source: IE

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