National Clean Air Programme (NCAP)

National Clean Air Programme (NCAP)

  • In 2019, the Union Ministry of Environment, Forests, and Climate Change introduced the National Clean Air Programme or NCAP.

The program's goals are:

  • To extend the network of stations nationwide that monitor air quality.
  • to improve the ability to manage air pollution
  • to increase public awareness of the risks associated with air pollution
  • The NCAP also aims to provide a workable plan for preventing, managing, and controlling air pollution.
  • The program will be implemented nationally by an executive committee within the Environment Ministry. At the state level, committees at the Chief Secretary level will oversee the plan's implementation.

The following parties have collaborated on the NCAP:

  • Ministry of Highways and Road Transportation
  • Ministry of New and Renewable Energy
  • Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas
  • Ministry of Heavy Industry
  • Ministry of Health
  • Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs
  • Ministry of Agriculture
  • Central Pollution Control Board
  • NITI Aayog
  • Academe, charitable foundations, civil society, etc., are all involved in the program.
  • In addition, clean air initiatives will be launched in 43 smart cities out of 102 through the Central Government's Smart Cities Mission.

The NCAP-covered cities 

  • One hundred-two cities from 23 UTs and states have been chosen for this initiative.  
  • Except for Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru, and Kolkata, all selected cities are tier 2. 
  • The cities were chosen based on ambient air quality data collected between 2011 and 2015 by the National Air Quality Monitoring Program (NAMP). 
  • Maharashtra has the highest number of cities chosen for the program.


It will be more cross-sectoral, multi-scale, and collaborative.

Coordination between all relevant State and Central ministries, local and national governments. The emphasis will be on no-regret measures. (i.e. measures that are worth implementing no matter which event happens whenever consequences are uncertain.

Institutional Framework-

Establishing a clear organizational structure, outlining roles, and coordinating efforts on air pollution issues are all part of an institutional framework. In light of this, it is suggested that the following organizational structure be used:

  • Apex Committee under Hon'ble MEF&CC
  • Steering Committee under Secretary (EF&CC)
  • Monitoring Committee under Joint Secretary
  • National Level PMU at MoEF&CC-25 scientific personnel and34 secretarial assistance
  • National level Project Implementation Unit (PIU) at CPCB-5-6 scientific personal
  • State Level PMU-3-4 scientific personal Ministries involved
  • The success of the programme is based on inter-sectoral participation

of the various sectors of government involved in the implementation of the


  • The coordinating ministries will be the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas, Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, Ministry of Heavy Industry, Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Health, NITI Aayog, and Central Pollution Control Board.

NCAP-related initiatives

  1. Expanding air quality monitoring infrastructure
  2. i) Stations for manual monitoring; For the 4000 cities nationwide, increase the existing 691 manual monitoring stations to 1000.
  3. ii) Continuous ambient air quality monitoring stations

(CAAQMS) - The number of existing CAAQMS should be increased. Gradually increasing from 101 in 64 cities to 210 to cover more air pollution cities in the Assam state Jharkhand Bihar, Haryana, Punjab, Rajasthan, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, and Madhya Pradesh are some examples.

iii ) Ident ification of alternative technology for real-time

monitoring- Initiative under the CPCB involving the IIT, CSIR, and others

to identify and develop cost-effective alternatives, NEERI was established.

It is an effective technology for monitoring source and ambient air


  1. iv) Rural Monitoring Network- 
  • Rural areas also suffer from or experience indoor air pollution in addition to outdoor air pollution.
  • Ozone levels in the atmosphere are higher in rural than in urban areas. 
  • It is suggested that 50 monitoring stations be established to cover these areas.
  1. v) Protocol for setting up monitoring stations and monitoring

- The first Ambient Air Quality Monitoring guidelines were published in 2003.

- These recommendations need to be revised in light of making wise choices when choosing pollutants to remove from the environment, locations, frequency, duration, methods of sampling infrastructure, personnel, business operations, and maintenance cost.

  1. vi) Monitoring of PM 2 : 

In order to increase the number of monitoring from the current 67 stations for PM2 5 to all stations covered by NAMP. 

vii) Setting up of 10-city Super Network- The nation's overall air quality dynamics, intervention trends, investigative measurements, etc., may be captured by this super city network.

1) Each city could have one sophisticated monitoring station that represents the city's environment and also alerts 12 pollutant constituents. Monitoring of particle number, etc. 

2) Air quality monitoring plan for 100 non-attainment cities- India's air pollution has a variety of causes, depending on the state. Around There will be 100 of these cities with a population of over a million. with the aid of a reputable institute, taken for an apportionment study IITs, NEERI, TERI, and ARA in an ordered fashion.

3) Indoor air pollution monitoring and management- Urban and rural areas are susceptible to indoor air pollution. Different factors in both areas contribute to the indoor air quality. Pollution. To address this, guidelines and protocols must be created. 

4) Air Pollution Health Impacts Studies -A working group and a high-level apex committee jointly presided over by ICMR and MoEF&CC. Its role is to identify the thrust area in environmental health and related projects and generate more authentic data.

 5) Setting up an air information centre- The creation of an air information centre will be in charge of data analysis, interpretation, dissemination (including through a GIS platform), issuing bulletins, monitoring global developments, and publishing policy updates. 

6) Certification system for monitoring instruments- An independent organization to certify the tools used in Authentic Accreditation-based environmental monitoring program service in compliance with the current ISO standard.

7) Air Quality Forecasting System- The Air Quality Forecasting System (AAQFS) is a cutting-edge modelling system that forecasts the following day's air quality is being envisaged. The model that aims to forecast air pollution accurately daily and foresee air pollution requirements must be fed with meteorological and emissions data.

8) Extensive Plantation Drive- Numerous plants used in drive-by identification and horticulture can absorb pollutants, improving air quality and human health.

9) Issuance of Notification on Dust Management (Road dust and C&D)- Considering that preventive measures are not mandated by law,There are steps to be taken to manage dust, including road dust. Furthermore, dust is created during construction (C&D). It is suggested that a notification regarding dust management be developed. 

10) Intensive Awareness, Training and Capacity Building Drive-to raise awareness and publicize each programme, as well as to build the capacity of those involved in air quality management.

11) Three-tier mechanism for review of monitoring, assessment
Moreover, inspection for implementation - A trustworthy, transparent, and accountable data collection and monitoring system ready for immediate action. A three-tier system includes real-time physical data collection, data archiving and analytics infrastructure, and an action trigger system. These three-tier systems operate freely under the instruction of an individual authority and guarantee accreditation from three independently operating entities. 

12) National Emission Inventory- An emission inventory accounts for the pollutants discharged into the atmosphere. It will help understand environmental problems and monitor progress towards resolving them. A Comprehensive National Emission Inventory will be formalized under this mission.

13) Network of Technical Institutions- High calibre and seasoned academics from Knowledge Partners Network, administrators of academic institutions and technical organizations in the air pollution will be produced to offer comprehensive services to the policy creation and implementation as well as the running of radio programs pollution.

14) Technology Assessment Cell - A technology assessment cell is planned to assess the technologies necessary for pollution control, prevention, and mitigation. It will concentrate on domestic and foreign monitoring and mitigation technologies.

15) Technology Assessment Cell - It is planned to establish a Technology Assessment Cell to assess technologies necessary for pollution prevention, control, and reduction.

16) Technology Support - About short- and long-term ecological and environmental impacts, social infrastructure, cultural ethos, and features of the Indian economy, it focuses on developing technologies appropriate to Indian scenarios.

17) Review of ambient air quality and emission standards - The current standards should be strengthened. There must be ongoing development of new standards. 

18) Extend ing source e apportion men's studies to all in one-attainment cities- Studies on source allocation rely heavily on measurements and locating the sources using receptor modelling.  

NCAP's (National Clean Air Programme) characteristics

  • Along with enhancing awareness-raising and capacity-building efforts, it also seeks to expand the nation's network for monitoring air quality.
  • The development of city-specific action plans is also taking place in 102 non-attainment cities where the air quality is believed to be worse than the national ambient air quality standards.
  • The 43 smart cities included in the list of the 102 non-attainment cities will use the Smart Cities program to introduce the NCAP.
  • Using 2017 as the baseline year for comparison, it suggests a tentative national target of a 20%–30% reduction in PM2.5 and PM10 concentrations by 2024.
  • However, the government has made clear that NCAP is a plan rather than a binding agreement with clear sanctions for bad cities.
  • NCAP discusses collaborative, multi-scale, cross-sectoral coordination between central ministries, state governments, and local bodies.
  • Within the framework of the NCAP, the CPCB will carry out the national program for the prevention, control, and mitigation of air pollution.
  • The respective ministries will "institutionalize" NCAP, which will run by cross-sectoral groups, including the NITI Aayog, the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Health, and subject-matter experts.
  • Other NCAP features include:
  • Expanding the number of monitoring stations across the nation, including those in rural areas.
  • Technology assistance.
  • Initiatives with a focus on raising awareness and building capacity. 
  • Establishing certification organizations for monitoring devices
  • Studies on source apportionment
  • Enforced with emphasis
  • Sector-specific interventions.

NCAP Initiatives

The initiatives under NCAP are listed below:

  • There will be an expansion of the National Air Quality Monitoring Network.
  • The cities' air quality management strategy.
  • Tracking and controlling indoor air pollution
  • This is an inventory of the amount of pollutants released into the air, the National Emission Inventory.
  • Institutional Network for Technical Studies
  • Technology Assessment Cell
  • International collaboration includes the exchange of best practices for reducing air pollution.

NGT's View:

    • Implementing the 'Sustainable Development' principle and the 'Public Trust Doctrine' necessitates drastic measures to give power to the mandate of international environmental quality obligations, for which the Environment (Protection) Act of 1986 was passed into law.
    • Public Trust Doctrine: This principle holds that the sovereign, or state, has the people's trust to manage the allocated resources for their benefit. 
      • According to Article 21, it is a denial of the right to life, not to address air pollution, recognized as a component of the right to life.
  • Directions from NGT:
  • It is necessary to shorten the deadline for reducing air pollution by 20–30% by 2024.
  • There is a need to raise the reduction goal.
  • It recommended that the Ministry review and take action regarding the switch to electric and compressed natural gas (CNG) vehicles, the expansion of the public transportation network, the mechanical cleaning of roads, the improvement of public parking facilities, the improvement of fuel quality, and traffic control.
  • The state pollution control boards received permission to evaluate and set up the necessary real-time online continuous ambient air quality monitoring systems within six months.
  • The Central Pollution Control Board's expert team was also instructed to create a model for source allocation and carrying capacity assessment within the next two months to be used by all non-attainment cities.
    • Source attribution is determining pollution sources and the amount they contribute to ambient air pollution levels.
    • Carrying Capacity: "carrying capacity" refers to the maximum number of individuals that can enter a given space without endangering its environmental quality. 

National Green Tribunal

  • It is a professional organization created in accordance with the National Green Tribunal Act of 2010 to effectively and quickly resolve disputes involving environmental protection, the preservation of forests, and the preservation of other natural resources.
  • It is based on Article 21 of the Indian Constitution, which guarantees the right to a healthy environment for all Indian citizens.
  • Original Jurisdiction concerns "substantive environmental question" and "environmental damage resulting from a specific activity."
  • It adheres to the ideas of natural justice.
  • Within six months of the application or appeal being filed, the NGT is required to make a final decision.
  • The main location for NGT meetings is New Delhi, while the other four locations are Bhopal, Pune, Kolkata, and Chennai.

Concerns related to NCAP

  • NCAP takes into account both domestic research and available international experiences.
  • It mentions instances like Beijing and Seoul, which saw reductions in PM2.5 of between 35% and 40% over five years, as evidence that actions have been "city-specific" rather than national in scope internationally.
  • If reductions of this magnitude were made, India's cities might still be severely polluted even if this was successful elsewhere.
  • Even with a 30% reduction by 2024, Delhi's extremely high levels of pollution—which are currently four times the allowable limits—would still be extremely hazardous to human health.

Practice question:

What are the key features of the National Clean Air Programme (NCAP) initiated by the government of India? (UPSC: Mains - 2020)

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