India has sought help from the United States for setting up the National Environmental Protection Authority (NEPA) on the lines of a similar agency in the U.S.

The issue also came up during discussions between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and U.S. President Barack Obama earlier this week, Minister of State (Independent charge) for Environment and Forests Jairam Ramesh said here on Thursday. Dr. Singh is now on an official visit to the U.S.

The Centre recently announced new National Ambient Air Quality Standards that were on a par with the European standards, and some of these were even better than U.S. standards, Mr. Ramesh said.

The NEPA will function as a premier scientific body for monitoring compliance with environment-related laws. It will eventually act as the regulatory body, linked with similar agencies at the State-level.

Mr. Ramesh said the authority, to subsume all regulatory bodies including the Central Pollution Control Board, was expected to be established within three to four months.

The joint India-U.S. statement mentions entering into a ‘Green Partnership’ to address the global challenges of energy security, food security and climate change. The two leaders have also agreed to launch a Clean Energy and Climate Change Initiative, the goal of which would be to improve the lives of people in both countries by developing and improving access to technologies that make energy cleaner, affordable and more efficient.

The initiative will include cooperation in wind and solar energy, second generation bio-fuels, unconventional gas, energy efficiency and clean coal technologies, including carbon capture and storage.

Its success is expected to enhance the ability of India and the U.S. in providing new economic opportunities for their people and to create new clean energy jobs, the joint statement said.

On its part, India believes Dr. Singh’s visit has laid the foundation for a significant and focussed collaborative effort on both clean energy and climate change.