The Centre on Thursday launched a five-year action plan, the National Clean Air Programme, to tackle air pollution in a time-bound manner across the country. The programme is aimed at reducing the concentration levels of PM 2.5 (fine particulate matter in the air with a diameter of less than 2.5 micrometres) and PM 10 by 20% to 30% by 2024 with 2017 as the base year.

“Overall objective of the NCAP is comprehensive mitigation actions for prevention, control and abatement of air pollution besides augmenting the air quality monitoring network across the country and strengthening the awareness and capacity building activities,” Union Minister for Environment Harsh Vardhan said.

The initial budget of the project is Rs 300 crore for the first two years.

“So far we had only been looking at National Capital Region to mitigate air pollution, but now we have attempted to reach out to different parts of the country,” said Secretary of Ministry of Environment CK Mishra, according to Mint. “It is a comprehensive plan that is specific to each city.”

The programme will be launched in 102 “non-attainment” cities across 23 states and Union Territories that were identified by the Central Pollution Control Board based on their ambient air quality data between 2011 and 2015. Non-attainment cities are those which have consistently showed poorer air quality than the National Ambient Air Quality Standards.

The Centre also plans to increase the number of air quality monitoring network across the country. At present, there are 101 real-time air quality monitors in India, Mint reported.

The draft National Clean Air Programme was released in April last year but it was criticised for not setting up any goals or schedule to reduce air pollution. The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change later set a target to cut down PM levels by 30% in five years.