Andhra Pradesh State government builds momentum for implementation of comprehensive action plan for clean air for five non-attainment cities that are consistently exceeding the air quality standards

  • Action Planswere rolled out for implementation at a Conclave jointly organised by the Andhra Pradesh Pollution Control Board and Centre for Science and Environment.
  • Clean air action plans for five cities –Vijaywada, Vishakhapatnam, Guntur, Kurnool and Nellore have been approved by the Central Pollution Control Boardfor implementation.
  • There is need for giving wider publicity to create awareness among the public and stakeholders on the burning problem of air pollution.
  • Plans set the target of helping the cities and the region to meet clean air standards through a multi-sector approach
  • This conclave was presided over by Neerabh Kumar Prasad, Special Chief Secretary, Environment, Forest, Science and Technology (EFS&T), Govt of Andhra Pradesh and key note address was given by AnumitaRoychowdhury, Executive Director, CSE. Chairman, Andhra Pradesh Pollution Control Board, Sri B. S. S. Prasad addressed the conclave. 

Vijayawada, June 11, 2019: Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) and the Andhra Pradesh Pollution Control Board kick started the process of implementing the newly developed “Comprehensive Action Plan for Clean Air for five Non-attainment Cities of Andhra Pradesh” -- Vijaywada, Vishakhapatnam, Guntur, Kurnool and Nellore. In a Conclave on Air Quality Management: Building Strategies for Clean Air, held in Vijayawada today, Neerabh Kumar Prasad, Special Chief Secretary, Environment, Forest, Science and Technology (EFS&T), Govt of Andhra Pradesh flagged off the process of implementation of the plans. Andhra Pradesh State government has build momentum for implementation of action plans in five non-attainment cities that are consistently exceeding the air quality standards.

Special Chief SecretaryEFS&T emphasized that “with action planning at the city level, now we have sufficient level of information to begin our intense action. We need targeted action and comprehensive efforts by all the stakeholders to meet the air quality standards in the polluted cities”.

Chairman, APPCB said “air pollution control efforts should be expedited by better understanding of city specific sources. At the city level the local government should take the lead role along with other departments for better results.”

This Conclave brought together senior officials and key implementing agencies from the cities along with experts to deliberate on the strategies for implementation and to enable cross-learning based on best practices. These plans have been jointly developed by the AP State Pollution Control Board in association with CSE, in consultation with various concerned departments. AnumitaRoychowdhury, Executive Director for Research and Advocacy,CSE -- the knowledge partner in this initiative -- highlighted the scope of the plans, laid out the challenges and the way forward to fast track change in the state. Experts in the area of air quality assessment, transport, and waste management addressed the gathering to provide knowledge support to the strategy implementation. The conclave was also attended by officials from the Departments of Environment, Transport, Pollution Control Board, district administration, municipal corporations and other stakeholders. 

The clean air action plans have been designed to meet the air quality targets. Industrialisation, rapid motorisation, booming construction activities, waste generation, dispersed use of solid fuels, and mining activities are cumulatively and continuously polluting the air. The deliberation highlighted that urban air quality management requires multi-sectoral and coordinated action to address rising air pollution from multiple sources in the rapidly growing cities. The framing of the Action Plans has taken into account several ongoing initiatives of the State Government of Andhra Pradesh being implemented in every sector that has bearing on air quality. A range of policy measures has been implemented in different sectors of pollution control over time. Preparation of the plans has integrated existing plans and baseline policy measures already implemented. These have been further refined based on the emerging good practices and the level of detailing and stringency that is required to have one integrated plan to guide action in each of the five cities. The plans have also been customized to address local issues and challenges. The plans are now approved by the Central Pollution Control Board for implementation.

The key highlights of the plans are as follow:

Air pollution reduction target: The five city action plans have been designed to enable time bound reduction in air pollution levels. Based on the average PM10 levels for three consecutive years, 2015–17 provide an indicative targets for reduction of air pollution in cities. This can be further refined with more studies on source apportionment and inventory, modelling and forecasting. These reduction targets to meet the annual average ambient air quality standards and to sustain this over time are significant. This is expected to define the level of detail and stringency needed in action to achieve clean air. For instance, Vijayawada will have to reduce annual average level of PM10 by 42 per cent to meet the NAAQS standard. Guntur, which has shown an increase in PM10 concentrations in the recent years need to cut down its pollution levels by 30 per cent already. Given that the city is all set for major urbanization in the near future due to development of the Capital Region, this figure comes across as worrisome. It is important to emphasize that more effective air quality profile will emerge once the real time monitoring is established in all cities. It is evident that manual monitoring under estimates pollution compared to real time monitoring.

Aim to reduce health risk in the state: The first ever state-level disease burden estimates released by IHME, ICMR and PHFI in 2017 show that air pollution ranks as the fourth-highest risk factor in Andhra Pradesh that is responsible for premature deaths in the state. In the disease profile of the state, ischaemic heart disease and chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder have been identified as the leading causes of loss of productive life years in Andhra Pradesh. These diseases are greatly influenced by air pollution. Air pollution is a serious short-term trigger factor for causing early deaths due to heart disease. According to findings of a recent study published in the journal Lancet, titled ‘The impact of air pollution on deaths, disease burden, and life expectancy across the states of India: The Global Burden of Disease Study 2017’, a total of 45,525 deaths in Andhra Pradesh in 2017 could be attributed to air pollution. While the estimated number of deaths attributed to household air pollution is 19,345, the number due to ambient air pollution is estimated at 23,280 and this is indicative of the fact that people are at greater risk from ambient air pollution than from household air pollution. The report also states that life expectancy in Andhra Pradesh would increase by 1.4 years if air pollution concentrations were less than the minimum level causing health loss.

Action on industries, and power plants: Government has initiated implementation of action plan for the industrial areas. Source specific measures will have to be taken to implement the emission norms. Particularly, in Visakhapatnam steel, power plant and port related emissions are a concern, in Nellore thermal power plants,rice mills, are of primary concern. The Narla Tata rao Thermal Power Station is situated approximatey 20 kilometeres from Vijayawada.

Rapid motorisation: Andhra Pradesh has been witnessing an exponential growth in personal car and two-wheeler registration, with an average annual growth rate of approximately 15 per cent observed during the past 4 years post the bifurcation. Along with motorization use of diesel has also increased in the cities due to growth in the number of high mileage commercial vehicles and dieselization of personal vehicle segment. This is not only contributing to the particulate and NOx load in the city but also to the cancer risk. The World Health Organisation has classified diesel emissions as the Class I carcinogen.

With the division of the state, and the development of a new capital underway, other cities are also evolving tremendously, which involve construction and other economic (such as new business centre development, market places, etc.) activities growing rapidly. In addition, implementation of projects under schemes such as Smart Cities is increasing the import of construction material and adding to heavy traffic flow in the city. All of this is adding to the air pollution in cities making life unhealthy and dangerous.

Promoting sustainable mobility practices: Deliberations also brought out that small cities will require appropriate mobility strategy. Promoting walking and cycling, efficient and modern intermediate public transport system, electric two-wheelers and electric para transit like three-wheelers can provide substantial benefits. This will promote culture of public transport.  Cities have to work towards integrating landuse planning and urban design with public transport. Moreover, cities need parking policy and parking area management plans as a demand management tool. 

Reduce tailpipe emissions from vehicles: Experts also highlighted the pathways to improving on-road emissions monitoring and compliance system as the city is making the transition from Bharat Stage IV emissions standards to BSVI standards next year. The national experience in the conclave made it clear that the big thrust will have to be on controlling realworld emissions from vehicles while scaling up the infrastructure for phasing out of older vehicles and scrappage to maximize air quality benefits. 

Control emissions from waste burning and dust from construction: In the waste sector, good practices in collection and recycling of waste were demonstrated to identify the clear strategies to minimize air pollution from waste generation, handling, dumping and waste burning. The critical focus was on dust control practices in construction sites and setting up of facilities to recycle construction and demolition waste. Examples have been shared from large construction agencies who have demonstrated how they are using blocks and other materials made out of construction and demolition waste in the buildings they are constructing. Such systems are needed to ensure that these wastes are not dumped but are brought back to the construction as resource.