New Delhi : Emboldened by the performance of 95 cities that showed improvement in air quality in 2021-22 com pared to 2017 , the Centre has revised the target of reducing air pollution – Particulate Matter ( PM ) concentrations in cities from 20-30 % by 2024 to 40 % by 2025-26 from 2017 levels .
Though 40 % reduction in PM concentrations would not be enough to reach the acceptable limits in cities like Delhi , Mumbai , Kolkata, Lucknow , Kanpur , and those in National Capital Region ( NCR) , the revised target may at least prompt the states to ratchet up their ambition through respective city – based action plans under the National Clean Air Programme ( NCAP). The new target was conveyed to states during the national conference of environment ministers in Ekta Nagar , Gujarat last week . ” Achieving minimum 40 % reduction is desirable under the revised target . We believe manycities can achieve much higher cuts like what we have seen in the case of Varanasi that re corded the highest 53 % reduction in the level of PM10 in 2021-22 compared to the 2017 level , ” said an official in the environment ministry .
The ministry’s recent analysis of cities under NCAP showed that 20 cities , including Chennai , Madurai , Nashik and Chittur , have even conformed to the National Ambient Air Quality Standards ( NAAQS) that put acceptable annual average limit of PM10 at 60 micro grams per cubic meter ( µg / m3 ) .
” Idea behind the revised target is to ultimately achieve the acceptable limits of both PM10 and PM2.5 concentrations. Further revision in target may happen in future , ” said the official .
There are 131 cities under NCAP, launched in January 2019 , which have been working on their respective action plans to reduce air pollution through multiple actions on the ground . During the national conference , the minis try also decided to rank these 131 cities annually based on different actions .