Time to revamp Air Pollution Act, NAAQS: Congress on air pollution

New Delhi: With the air quality in the national capital entering into ‘severe’ category, Congress leader Jairam Ramesh on Friday said that it was time to totally revamp both the Air Pollution (Control and Prevention) Act and NAAQS as the National Clean Air Programme was chugging along without having any marked impact.

In a post on X, Ramesh, who is a former Union environment and forest minister said, “The Air Pollution (Control and Prevention) Act came into being in 1981. Thereafter, ambient air quality standards were announced in April 1994 and later revised in October 1998. In November 2009, after a thorough review by IIT Kanpur and other institutions a more stringent and wide-ranging National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) was put into effect. This covered 12 pollutants considered very detrimental to public health.”

He said that the press note that accompanied the implementation of NAAQS revealed the thinking for the significant shift that took place then.

“It is now time for a revisit and a total revamp of both the Act and the NAAQS. Over the past decade and more, compelling evidence has accumulated on the impacts of air pollution on public health,” the Congress.leader said.

“In January 2014, an expert Steering Committee on Air Pollution and Health Related Issues was set up and this submitted its report in August 2015. Since then the weaknesses in our enforcement machinery of both the law and the standards along with the emasculation of the National Green Tribunal have become painfully evident,” he says.

“The National Clean Air Programme is chugging along without having any marked impacts. Air pollution hits the headlines mostly in November when the nation’s capital chokes. But it is a daily agony across the country all round the year,” Ramesh added.

His remarks came after the air quality in Delhi-NCR plunged into ‘severe’ category on Friday.

In the national Capital, the AQI at Anand Vihar reached the ‘severe’ category with PM 2.5 and PM 10 at 500, while NO2 was recorded at 76, under ‘satisfactory’ levels and CO at 113 in ‘moderate’ category, as per the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB).

At Bawana, the PM 2.5 reached 500 while PM 10 was at 499, both under ‘severe’ category, while the CO was recorded at 113, in ‘moderate’ category and NO2 was at 34 in ‘satisfactory’ levels.

The AQI between zero and 50 is considered ‘good’, 51 and 100 ‘satisfactory’, 101 and 200 ‘moderate’, 201 and 300 ‘poor’, 301 and 400 ‘very poor’, and 401 and 500 ‘severe’.


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