Greenpeace India Friday alleged the Centre has failed miserably in staying true to its commitment of notifying a programme which proposes multiple strategies to combat air pollution.
Noting that the National Green Tribunal had on October 8 asked the Centre and states to act together to reduce pollution in a time-bound manner, the green body hoped that "this rap" from the NGT would lead to the government notifying the National Clean Air Programme (NCAP) soon.
"A new trend seems to be emerging. Now, courts have to intervene at every step to ensure a policy is implemented to protect the interests of the citizens of India. Isn't it the government's mandate to implement policies without the intervention from the courts?
"Another trend we are witnessing is that the government is actively diluting environmental laws and arguing on behalf of polluting companies to enable them to continue to pollute," alleged Sunil Dahiya, senior air pollution campaigner, Greenpeace India.
The green body in a statement said taking suo motu action on a news report on the Centre's proposal to notify the NCAP, the NGT on October 8 asked the state and central governments to act together to reduce pollution in a time-bound manner and achieve National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) across the country.
Greenpeace India said the court order mentioned that little progress has been made on finalizing NCAP, but it is still far from what is required, given the emergency situation.
The NGT observed that out of 102 non-attainment cities, plans from 73 cities were received and of this, plans of 36 cities have been finalised, 37 are pending and 29 have not been submitted (as of September 2018), the statement said.
"The NGT order clearly highlights the need for measures such as regulating number of vehicles and their parking and plying, regulating industries based on carrying capacity and urgency to bring the standards of air quality within prescribed norms as soon as possible," Greenpeace India said.
It pointed out that after much pressure from the public and the media, the Union Environment Ministry in April released the draft NCAP.
However, even after five months, there is no sign of the programme being finalised and when asked about the air pollution situation, the Centre and state governments start blaming each other, it said.
The ministries of environment and power took no action against polluting industries and coal power plants and on the contrary, they extended the deadline for implementation of emissions standards for thermal power plants by another five years, it alleged.
"It is also heartening to know that the environment minister is concerned about the country's image in the international arena. But, the concern seems rather hollow as we continue to wait for the NCAP.
"It is disappointing how the minister is conveniently passing the buck to the state governments and is failing miserably to stay true to his commitment of notifying the NCAP by including tim- bound pollution reduction goals. As per his claims, the NCAP should have been notified long time back. Multiple reports site deadlines of June 5 and August 15, 2018," said Dahiya.
Greenpeace India said that the Centre has to come out with the final NCAP after incorporating the action plans of the states and UTs and funds for implementing the plans should be released accordingly.
"Greenpeace India sincerely hopes that NGT's intervention results in concrete action by the government and can help us create a breathable India," the body said.
The Environment Ministry has prepared the draft NCAP with an objective to come up with a comprehensive plan for prevention, control and abatement of air pollution, and to augment the air quality monitoring network across the country.
In February, Union Environment Minister Harsh Vardhan had said that the ministry hoped to bring down air pollution in around 100 non-attainment cities by 50 per cent in the next five years under the NCAP.
Non-attainment cities are areas with air quality worse than the National Ambient Air Quality (NAAQ) Standards.
The key components of the NCAP include city-specific air pollution abatement action plan for 100 polluting cities of the country, increasing the number of monitoring stations, data dissemination, public participation on planning and implementation.
The other components include setting up of air information centre for data analysis, resource apportionment studies, national inventory and rural monitoring stations, besides guidelines for indoor air pollution.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)