The Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) has notified the Revised National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS), 2009, which provide a legal framework for control of air pollution and protection of public health. The revised norms have come 15 years after the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) had notified the previously existing NAAQS in 1994. The new norms are in league with those of the European Union and World Health Organisation and include five new pollutants: ozone, arsenic, nickel, benzene and benzo(a)pyrene.
The existing seven parameters of suspended particulate matter(SPM), respirable particulate matter (RPM), sulphur dioxide, oxides of nitrogen, carbon monoxide, ammonia and lead also remain in the new norms. Though mercury has not been notified as part of these revised standards, the MoEF plans to monitor it.
Importantly, the ministry has put in place uniform standards for residential and industrial areas. “We have removed the distinction between industrial areas and residential areas. Now standards will be uniform, whether it is classified as industrial or residential area. There have been lower standards for air quality in industrial areas as compared to residential areas so far,” minister Jairam Ramesh said today.
The proposal for revision in NAAQS has been notified under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986, on November 16 by the MoEF. The CPCB has initiated the process of harmonising its notification under the Air Act, 1981, with the revised notification so as to ensure the efficient implementation of the new standards.
“National Environment Protection Authority and the National Green Tribunal will ensure the effective enforcement of these standards,” added Ramesh.