According to officials, the Centre has revised its previous goal of a 20 to 30% reduction by 2024 to a 40% reduction in particulate matter concentration in cities covered by the National Clean Air Programme (NCAP) by 2026.
In 95 of the 131 non-attainment cities covered by the NCAP, PM10 levels in 2021 compared to levels in 2017 were “largely improved,” according to the Union Environment Ministry.
Twenty cities have attained annual average PM10 concentration levels that satisfy national standards (60 micrograms per cubic metre), including Chennai, Madurai, and Nashik.
Annual PM2.5 levels must not exceed 40 micrograms per cubic metre.PM2.5, which are tiny, inhalable particles with an average diameter of 2.5 micrometres or less, are the most dangerous to human health.
“By 2024, the target of a 20 to 30 per cent reduction in PM levels must be achieved. The NCAP results so far have been encouraging. We have therefore revised the reduction target to 40% by 2026, according to a representative of the environment ministry.
Under NCAP, city-specific action plans have been developed that detail how to improve the network of air quality monitors, reduce industrial and automobile emissions, and increase public awareness, among other things.
The cities are also changing their action plans to reach the increased targets, the official said.
Since 2017, PM 10 concentrations have improved across the board in several cities, including Delhi, Noida, Ghaziabad, Kolkata, Chennai, Bengaluru, Chandigarh, Dehradun, Patna, Nagpur, Pune, Agra, Allahabad, Bareilly, Firozabad, Moradabad, Kanpur, Varanasi, Jalandhar, Ludhiana, Jaipur, Jodhpur, Jamshedpur,
PM10 levels in Delhi have decreased from 241 micrograms per cubic metre in 2017 to 196 micrograms per cubic metre in 2021.