Centre has decided to roll out a 'Green Fund worth over Rs 18 crore for the national capital under the National Clean Air Programme (NCAP) this year to mitigate the critical gaps in air pollution management, according to officials.
Delhi for the very first time will get funds under NCAP, a national-level strategy designed to cause 20 per cent to 30 per cent reduction in PM2.5 and PM10 concentration by 2024, with 2017 as the base year for comparison.
"Delhi will get Rs 18.74 crore under NCAP. This is the first time it will be receiving funds under the programme since it started in 2019," an official told PTI.
NCAP covers 132 non-attainment cities, which do not meet the prescribed national ambient air quality standards (NAAQS).
These cities have been identified based on the ambient air quality data obtained during the 2011-2015 period under the National Air Monitoring Programme.
The acceptable annual standard for PM 10 and PM2.5 is 60 micrograms per cubic metre and 40 micrograms per cubic metre, respectively.
In 2017, Delhi's annual PM10 average stood at 240 micrograms per cubic metre. The targeted PM10 concentration by 2024 is 168 micrograms per cubic metre.
"The national capital did not get any funds under NCAP for two years because it had other resources available -- a green cess levied on diesel vehicles above 2,000 cc -- which is deposited with the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) and a pollution tax on commercial vehicles entering Delhi," an official in the Union Environment Ministry said.
This time, fund availability under NCAP has improved.
"Fifty cities are already getting a good amount (Rs 4,400 in 2020-21 and Rs 2,217 crore in 2021-22) for pollution management from the Finance Commission. Therefore, the availability of funds for the remaining 82 cities under NCAP has improved. So, we decided to give some funds to Delhi, too," the official said.
A total of 290 crore is available for these 82 cities this year.
The NCAP fund will be utilised to cater to critical gaps -- wherever there is any inadequacy of funds available from other resources. The rest of the funding is to be mobilised through convergence of schemes, the official explained.
Funds for bigger projects such as management of construction and demolition waste are allocated under the Swachh Bharat Urban programme and other schemes of the central government.
The Delhi government has prepared a "Winter Action Plan" to tackle air pollution in the capital and Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal is expected to announce it soon.
The plan focuses on 10 key issues, including stubble burning, pollution hotspots, working of smog tower and vehicular and dust pollution.
The city government has already imposed a complete ban on the sale and bursting of firecrackers till January 1, 2022, and has issued detailed guidelines to control dust pollution.
(With PTI Inputs)