To improve AQI, MPBC chalks out 5-year roadmap

Funds for the second installment (as per the Finance Commission recommendation) will be released based on performance.

To improve AQI, MPBC chalks out 5-year roadmap

The Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) has explained the five-year (2021-25) roadmap on how the funds would be utilised for cleaner air soon after the Centre announced its decision to disburse funds to improve air quality for cities with more than 42 million population, based on the 15th Finance Commission recommendation. Maharashtra will be getting a fund of INR 396.5 crore in the first installment under the initiative.

MPCB said that all urban local bodies will be receiving the funds over the next seven to eight days after the funds are routed to the state via the Union environment ministry.

On February 1, Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced Rs 4,400 crore for clean air in large cities having population above one million in her Budget speech. Among major cities, the minister had said Maharashtra would get INR 793 crore for air pollution control with Mumbai receiving the share of INR 488 crore, which is the highest among all million-plus cities in India. Funds to be disbursed for other cities include INR 134 crore for Pune, Rs 66 crore for Nagpur, Rs 41 crore for Nashik, and Rs 32 crore each for Aurangabad and Vasai-Virar.

On Monday, as a first installment, centre listed Maharashtra’s six cities — Mumbai, Vasai-Virar, Aurangabad, Nagpur, Nashik, Pune. Pune got INR 67 crore, Nagpur INR 33 crore, Nashik INR 20.5 crore, while Vasai-Virar and Aurangabad received INR 16 crore each. The state government has been directed to release the funds to the civic bodies within 10 working days.

Also Read: Mumbai gets the biggest share from centre to fight air pollution

Funds for the second instalment (as per the Finance Commission recommendation) will be released based on performance.

MPBC official explained that the funds will be used as per broad headers defined by the Central government such as strengthening of institutional air quality monitoring and policy framework including setting up of manual, automatic air monitoring stations and frequent assessment of sources of air pollution in each city. This would be followed by source-wise cause analysis of air pollution, monitoring the progress on action plans, compliance of statutory guidelines, and quantification of air quality improvements.

A letter Tweeted by Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Tuesday said, “The funds are expected to be utilised for the capacity-building of local bodies and meeting needs of the state pollution control board to achieve the goal of maintaining ambient air quality within the jurisdiction of the cities.”

The local bodies in the list shall entrust one urban local body as a nodal entity to receive the grants. This nodal entity shall also have the responsibility of achieving the performance indicators for the entire urban agglomeration, the ministry’s statement said.

However, this comes two days after Mumbai recorded ‘poor’ air quality for the first time in eight months, pollution levels further increased on Wednesday. The air quality index (AQI) was recorded at 221 (poor) on Wednesday. The AQI was 218 (poor) on Tuesday morning, which fell to 211 (poor) by the evening. Mazagaon was the most polluted site with an AQI of 310 (very poor) followed by Bandra-Kurla Complex (306 or very poor).

Meanwhile, the maximum temperature in the city was recorded at 35 degrees Celsius, a degree above normal.

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