Key to NCAP is civil society engagement
NEWDELHI: This week, India got its National Clean Air Plan, the NCAP. Two things struck me. The first, in Section 7.1.16, it speaks of international co-operation, both technology transfer and information. This is crucial -we are hit as a region. Think of pollution’s impact not only on Indian children, but also those in Nepal.
While transboundary co-operation is useful, the case of India shows that civil society engagement is key. India’s doctors, for example, have been able to bring to the public the impact of air pollution. For these reasons, the global engagement must also formally be at civil society’s level.
Second, the plan has identified various government missions which will reorient themselves to keep air pollution in their ambit, and use their funds for NCAP objectives too. Smart cities is one case in point. The challenge now is to train city managers so they understand air pollution. Many cities have made their plans, so we cannot change those. Instead, we have to help them add on air pollution abatement. While smart cities covers only 43 of the 102 cities listed for action in the NCAP, across the various missions, key decision makers must be told about the fundamentals of air pollution to fight it effectively.
Both these aspects of NCAP require a fundamental reorientation in its implementation. It cannot be business as usual within one ministry. Its success depends on learning to work differently, and reorienting policy implementation. It’s a test for everyone -mostly that of our ability to survive this killer phenomenon.