Yet, not legally binding: India’s soon to be released National Clean Air Plan will only be treated as a ‘plan’ – and not a “must achieve objective” | Image credit: Themilleniumreport.com

India sets target of 30% drop in air pollution by 2024, but target not legally binding

India plans to reduce air pollution by 20-30% from the current level in 102 cities across the country by 2024. The target is part of the National Clean Air Programme to be released in the next few days. The cities include Delhi, Mumbai, Pune, Varanasi, Kanpur, Lucknow, Allahabad, Kolkata, Bengaluru, Chandigarh, Jaipur, Jammu, Patiala, Jalandhar, Ludhiana, Patna and Hyderabad among others.

The target of reducing PM 10 and PM 2.5 levels by 20% to 30% in the first five years (2019 to 2024), compared to 2017 levels, will not be notified under the environment protection act and therefore will not be legally binding on cities.

Delhi’s air dips to ‘very poor’ again, Top Court says send erring officials to jail

Delhi’s Air quality Index once again dipped to ‘very poor’ category of 349 ppm mainly  because of vehicular emissions, construction and paddy straw burning in the neighbouring states. The Supreme Court has slammed the government for inaction saying: “Prosecute the local agencies. Send them to jail.”

Watch dog seeks to initiate criminal proceedings against officials

The Supreme Court “placed government officials and agencies on the same footing as polluters” after

pollution watchdog CPCB told the court that officials should also be penalised for inaction. Central Pollution Control Board issued notices to agencies to initiate criminal proceeding against them.

UChicago: Polluted air reducing life expectancy in Delhi by over 10 years

Delhi’s polluted air is reducing the life of the average resident by over 10 years, according to a new index released by the University of Chicago. Fossil fuel-driven particulate air pollution cuts global average life expectancy by 1.8 years per person, according to a new pollution index, the Air Quality Life Index (AQLI), and a report by the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago (EPIC).

Over the past two decades, particulate pollution increased by 69% in India. According to this graph to see if India meets WHO standards, the average Indian would live 4.3 years longer and a Delhiite would live more than 10 years longer. Meanwhile, former NGT chairman Justice Swatanter Kumar said India needs concerted efforts to control air pollution, not more laws.

Niti Aayog CEO: Ban fossil fuel-based gensets, close ageing coal plants

In a strong call to curb pollution and global warming, Niti Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant has proposed to ban fossil-fuel based gensets within six months, and close down over 25-year-old coal plants. Kant also proposed to boost solar and wind energy and commercialise coal mining.

Kolkata and Patna became briefly overtake Delhi as most polluted cities in India

Kolkata and Patna briefly overtook Delhi as India’s most polluted cities in November as their air quality dipped to very poor levels. PM2.5 levels in Kolkata touched 381 µg/m³ on November 19 (vs. 292 µg/m³ in Delhi), while Patna’s overall AQI stood at 402 on November 21st (vs. Delhi’s 373).

Patna’s poor AQI was blamed on winter time’s thermal inversion and the city’s topography, while automobile emissions were targeted as an additional factor for Kolkata’s dangerously high PM2.5 concentration.

Way out of Punjab’s stubble burning menace? Power plant to run on paddy straw  

Punjab will set up a 60-65 MW paddy straw-based power plant at the cost of Rs. 150 crore. The Guru Nanak Dev Thermal Power (GNDTP) plant in Bathinda will use around 4 lakh tonnes of paddy straw annually to generate electricity.  Meanwhile, IKEA, the world’s largest furniture retailer, plans to use rice straw to manufacture new products.

Punjab is grappling with the problem of managing paddy straw as most of the farmers burn stubble in their fields leading to severe air pollution, which cause health problems.

Environment ministry nod for ‘artificial rain’ to clear Delhi air

The government approved an IIT Kanpur project to induce artificial rain via cloud seeding to clear the smog in Delhi. The success depends on the presence of a minimum quantity of rain-bearing clouds over Delhi. The project will have an aircraft fly into the clouds, which will inject silver iodide that will form ice crystals. These will make the clouds denser, cause them to condense into rain and settle enough atmospheric dust to clear the sky.

Govt  to approach top court for relief on old cars, tractors in NCR Delhi

With a blanket ban in Delhi on all diesel vehicles over 10 years old and petrol vehicles over 15  year old in force, the Centre plans to move the Supreme Court to keep tractors and private cars out of the purview of the order.

Energy Transitions Committee: Net-zero carbon emissions from heavy industry possible by 2060

The “Mission Possible” report by the Energy Transitions Committee (ETC) has reported that by 2060 it is possible to reach net-zero emissions from the carbon-intensive heavy industries of steel, cement, plastics, aviation, shipping and trucking.

ETC estimates that the transition would only cost about 0.5% of global GDP, add marginally to the cost of end products and be possible through the use of bioenergy alternatives, electric vehicles and hydrogen-fueled transport.

India’s green court fines Volkswagen Rs.100 crore for installing ‘cheat device’ in diesel cars  

India’s National Green Tribunal has ordered Volkswagen (VW) to deposit an interim fine of Rs 100 crore for installing  a ‘cheat device’ in its diesel cars in India. The device enables a diesel car to under-report its emissions when under inspection for compliance with pollution standards.

VW was previously fined $4.3 billion for its cheat devices by the US, and $1.18 billion by a German court over the fraudulent practice. The firm is now, however, considering re-positioning itself to be a major manufacturer of electric cars – despite the issue of significant job losses that may arise over moving away from manufacturing conventional cars.

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