Experts and activists have stated that the new action plan will do nothing for the city’s air pollution and have questioned some of the arbitrary points mentioned in the plan.

Karnataka pollution control board comes up with 44-pt action plan but will it workRepresentational Image
news Environment Monday, September 02, 2019 - 17:45

The Karnataka State Pollution Control Board’s (KSPCB) has submitted a revised action plan to the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) to combat air pollution in Bengaluru, but experts and activists doubt it will work.

Read: Air Pollution not a priority? K’taka skips filing action plan to curb air pollution

These action plans were submitted by respective state pollution control boards after a National Green Tribunal order on non-attainment of National Ambient Air Quality Standards. (NAAQS). The initial plan submitted earlier this year was rejected by the CPCB. Those closely following the issue closely observe that the new action plan has minor differences compared to the initial plan submitted, except changes in the column for “Time Target for Implementation”.

Read: Air quality in 11 K’taka cities including Bengaluru does not meet set standards

Most of the 44 action plans, the KSPCB has cited points which activists call bogus and are routine work of different departments. Even then some of the action points they state are more likely to contribute to air pollution than curb it. For starters, the second action plan calls for a routine check of calibration of equipment by the Transport Department in all Emission Testing Centres in the city.

For an example of counterproductive plans, No 15-”To construct more number of multilevel vehicle parking facilities”. Citizens question how this will reduce pollution given, having dedicated more parking areas will encourage more car usage when vehicular pollution is the prime cause of air pollution in the city.

"The current action plan of KSPCB is more like a laundry list and lacks; clear understanding of causality,  holistic approach, clear assessment of possible impacts, and fixation of accountability in case the set targets are not met.  The KSPCB should take a more consultative approach and should build upon the knowledge that various organizations in Bangalore have through their studies and research." Ashish Verma, a sustainable transport expert at Indian Institute of Science said.

This development comes when a Greenpeace study recently had suggested that even if air pollution is reduced by 30% by 2024 as set by National Clean Air Program (NCAP), seven cities including Bengaluru in the state will still continue to breathe polluted air above the NAAQS even in 2024.

While some action plans make sense, lack of details and their target dates seem askew. 

Another important information that the action plan fails to state is that while nine government agencies have been listed as enforcers, no agency has been made the nodal authority.

In a statement, an NGO—  Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL), says, “The draft action plan published by the KSPCB lacks a vision for clean air. It neither has the ambition to target percentage reduction in pollution nor does it aim for time-bound measures to curb various sources responsible for air pollution. What is more worrying is the fact that it requires multi-tier coordination across departments and administrative divisions. There is no clarity on the accountability mechanism for the list of actions mentioned under the plan.”

Reacting to the criticism, Dr H Lokeshwari, senior environment officer at KSPCB, said, “The plans are good and have been orally approved by the CPCB. This plan is prepared by a committee headed by Principal Secretary of Environment and Ecology and consists of top officers of Urban Development, Transport and other departments.”

Read: Does new data suggest air pollution in Bengaluru is reducing? Nope, say experts

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