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Form national task force to monitor remedial steps to improve air quality in 124 cities: NGT to govt | India News

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NEW DELHI: Looking at the problem of air pollution as a critical issue beyond the high focus Delhi-NCR zone, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has directed the Centre to constitute an eight-member national task force to monitor remedial steps to improve the status of air quality in 124 non-attainment cities (NACs) across the country.
The national task force (NTF) will also monitor enforcement of air quality standards in other identified air polluted areas, beyond NACs, where air quality is poor. The 124 NACs are those which did not meet the national ambient air quality standards during 2014-19.
Disposing of the matter which it had taken up suo moto on the basis of a TOI report on National Clean Air Programme (NCAP) in 2018, the tribunal also asked the NTF to see whether a ‘National Air Quality Atlas’ may be created by classifying cities or districts in terms of air quality in different categories such as ‘red’, ‘orange’ and ‘green’ for taking prioritised pollution abatement measures.
“NTF may also monitor enforcement of laid down air quality standards beyond NACs in other identified air polluted areas where air quality is poor and above (as per the Air Quality Index),” a bench headed by NGT chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel said in its order on April 8.
The tribunal’s order on setting up NTF assumes significance for constant monitoring of air pollution across the country as the Centre’s recent move to have a commission on air quality management (CAQM) through an ordinance is limited to tackling the problem in Delhi-NCR and adjoining areas. Though the NTF won’t have the power to work like CAQM, it will at least monitor the functioning of the NCAP which was launched over two years ago to deal with air pollution in NACs.
The NTF, headed by environment secretary, will have chairman of the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) and representations (not below the rank of join secretaries) from six central ministries such as road transport, housing & urban development, petroleum, power, health and agriculture as members.
Maximum 18 NACs, including Mumbai, Pune and Nagpur are in Maharashtra followed by 16 including Lucknow, Kanpur, Varanasi and Agra in Uttar Pradesh, 13 in Andhra Pradesh, nine in Punjab and seven each in West Bengal, Odisha and Himachal Pradesh.
The NGT in its order said that the NTF may coordinate and work in tandem with the Committees already constituted under the NCAP at national and state levels as per the cities’ respective clean air action plans.
The city-specific clean air action plans are supposed to deal with all sources of air pollution such as construction activity and carriage of construction material, mining and transportation of mined material, burning of municipal solid waste, agriculture residue and other waste; bursting of crackers, vehicular pollution, diesel gen-sets, dust on the roads, industrial and power house emissions including fly-ash and missions from coal fired activities brick kilns, hot-mix Plants and stone crushers.
The national task force in coordination with the CPCB will also monitor issues of noise pollution across the country.

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