Govt unveils new air quality norms

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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