Govt unveils new air quality norms
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Last Updated: Wednesday, November 18, 2009, 23:30
  
New Delhi: Unveiling tough new air quality norms, Government on Wednesday announced that industrial and residential areas will no more have two different standards and put in place uniform norms in a major move to combat air pollution.

The revised norms coming after a gap of 15 years were announced by Minister of State for Environment and Forests Jairam Ramesh, who called the removal of the distinction between the two areas as "very important."

The announcement of the newly notified Revised National Ambient Air Quality Standards-2009 came just less than a month before the crucial UN Climate Change Summit in Copenhagen where developing countries including India are expressed to be pressed hard to fix carbon emission reduction targets.

"The consequences of the new standards will be clean fuel. This will have a major implication on greenhouse gas emissions as well," Ramesh told reporters.

Ramesh said, "We have removed the distinction between Industrial and Residential areas. This is very important. Now standards will be uniform irrespective of whether it is classified as industrial or residential area."

There has been lower standards for air quality in industrial area as compared to residential areas so far, Ramesh said, adding the new standards provides a legal framework for control of air pollution and protection of public health.

The new guidelines have been prepared after considering those of the European Union. The norms of World Health Organisation have been also considered.

The revised guidelines have added five more hazardous chemicals in the list of the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for monitoring. They are Ozone, Arsenic, Nickel, Benzene and Benzo(a)Pyrene (BaP).

As per the existing norms of NAAQS, the permissible limit of Sulphur Dioxide, Oxide of Nitrogen and Respirable Particulate Matter in industrial area, which is 120 unit gram per cubic metre per day(ug cum pd) will be brought down to 80 ug cum pd--the norm for residential areas.

At present, the standards for suspended particulate matter in industrial area is 360 ug cum pd. This will have to be brought down to 140 ug cum pd.

The label of Lead in industrial areas will have to be brought down from 1.5 ug cum pd to one ug cum pd while carbon dioxide levels will have to be brought down from 50 ug cum pd every eight hours to 20 ug cum in the industrial areas.

There has been lower standards for air quality in industrial area as compared to residential areas so far, Ramesh said. This will change now, he said.

The government had notified the National Ambient Air Quality Standards in 1994 under the Air Act. The NAAQS had seven parameters -- Suspended Particulate Matter (SPM), Respirable Particulate Matter, Sulphur Dioxide, Oxides of Nitrogen, Carbon Monoxide, Ammonia and Lead. The government had later added six more parameters in 1996.

The review of the NAAQS and inclusion of new parameters was carried out by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) in collaboration with IIT-Kanpur, Ramesh said.

The revised standards will be applicable uniformly with the exception of stringent standards for Oxides of Nitrogen and Sulphur Dioxide in the ecologically sensitive areas.

The previous standards for residential areas have been uniformly applied for fine particulate matter, carbon monoxide and ammonia. More stringent limits for Lead, Oxides of Nitrogen and Sulphur Dioxide have been prescribed even for residential areas.

The SPM as a parameter has been replaced by fine particulate matter which is more relevant to public health, Ramesh said.

The CPCB will create a roadmap for the generation and maintenance of a database and monitoring of required infrastructure.

The government will also develop additional support system of enforcement such as National Environment Protection Authority and the National Green Tribunal to ensure effective enforcement of standards.

Ramesh said high penalties will be imposed for non-compliance of the new norms.

"We will ensure high penalties for non-compliance," he added.

However, questions are being raised as to how successful will the government be to enforce the norms.

Bureau Report


First Published: Wednesday, November 18, 2009, 23:30


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