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Updated: November 18, 2009 19:14 IST

New air quality norms set uniform standards for all areas

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This file photo shows smoke billowing from the chimneys of a thermal power station in New Delhi. The Government on Wednesday revised its air quality norms after a gap of 15 years.
AP This file photo shows smoke billowing from the chimneys of a thermal power station in New Delhi. The Government on Wednesday revised its air quality norms after a gap of 15 years.

In a major move to check air pollution, the Union Government on Wednesday revised its norms, putting in place uniform standards for residential and industrial areas.

Minister of State for Environment and Forests Jairam Ramesh announced the newly notified Revised National Ambient Air Quality Standards-2009, which provides a legal framework for control of air pollution and protection of public health.

“We have removed the distinction between industrial areas and residential areas. Now standards will be uniform irrespective of whether it is classified as industrial or residential area,” he told reporters here.

There have been lower standards for air quality in industrial areas as compared to residential areas so far, Mr. Ramesh said.

The new guidelines, which came after a gap of 15 years, have been prepared after considering the European Union. The norms of World Health Organisation have also been 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).

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, Mr. 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, Mr. 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.

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