New Delhi: A parliamentary panel recommended on Friday increasing the budget for Centre-run National Clean Air Programme (NCAP) by Rs. 200 crore while observing that controlling air pollution must be given “topmost priority”. The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Science and Technology, Environment, Forests and Climate Change, headed by former Union Minister Jairam Ramesh, made the recommendation in its 331st report presented in Rajya Sabha after considering the demand raised by Environment Ministry officials in a meeting held last month. The report stated,
Observing the reduction in fund allocation under the Central sector schemes – National Coastal Mission (NCM) and Control of Pollution, the committee was of the view that both these programmes, especially National Clean Air Programme, are of utmost importance in the present day context, and controlling air pollution must be given the topmost priority. The allocation of additional funds would help support an additional 22 non-attainment cities under ‘Control of Pollution’ scheme. The committee, therefore, recommended that the ministry must be provided the requisite allocation as sought by the ministry with respect to these two programmes.
The report stated that in a meeting held in February with representatives of the environment ministry, the committee noted that the ministry had projected a demand of Rs. 4,295.44 crore for a budgetary estimate for 2020-21 fiscal, against which Rs. 3,100 crore has been allocated.
The ministry informed the committee that the difference between the budgetary allocation requested and allocated amount would impact some of its key schemes and programmes, the panel noted. The panel said,
The committee asked the ministry about the bare minimum increase required in the budgetary allocations for the year 2020-21 to sustain its key programmes. In response, the ministry stated that they require at least Rs. 600 crore additional funds to sustain its key programmes/schemes during the year. Later, the ministry informed that the two programmes/ schemes where the requirement of additional funds is most necessary are ‘Control of Pollution’ (NCAP), which needs Rs. 200 crore more and National Coastal Mission (National Coastal Zone Management Programme) which needs Rs. 117 crore more.
According to the report, the committee was informed that the ministry received Rs. 460 crore for ‘Control of Pollution’ during 2020-21 instead of Rs. 660 crore projected by them. “It was going to impact the activities under pollution control, especially taking up 20 more non-attainment cities in addition to the existing 102, under the NCAP,” the report noted.
The government had in January, 2019 launched the National Clean Air Programme, a time-bound national level strategy to tackle increasing air pollution, with the aim of 20-30 per cent reduction of PM2.5 and PM10 concentration by 2024.