Context: The 15th Finance Commission headed by Sh. N. K. Singh held a detailed meeting with the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change on issues relating to Air Quality(AQ) especially in Urban Areas. 


  • It may be recalled that the XVFC Report 2020-2021 was the first time that any Commission has given attention to air quality (AQ) as a major focus.
  • Also this FC had not only recommended grants for 2020-21 but also provided a road map for its award period. 
  • The 15th Finance Commission in its report for the Financial Year 2020-2021 had  recommended grants of Rs. 4,400 crore for the year 2020-21 to improve the ambient air quality in fifty million plus cities/Urban Agglomerations (UAs). 
    • For this, the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Challenge has been entrusted with the responsibility to facilitate the desired outcomes through these urban local bodies.
  • The Commission is currently deliberating the recommendations to be made for the next five years from 2021-22 to 2025-26. 
  • In this regard it needed to understand the procedure and operational guidelines finalised in administering these grants and monitoring the outcomes for 2020-21, the meeting with the MoEF&CC was called for.

The objective of the meeting:

  • To discuss the status of the implementation of the FC’s recommendations for 2020-21 for administering the grants to improve air quality in million-plus cities.
  • To seek inputs from the Ministry on what should be considered for the next five years from 2021 to 2026.

The Commission was given the following information: 

  • Regarding reliable data on AQ measurement: It was explained that there is a network of stations covering a wide range of cities and towns which were set up under the National  Control of Air Pollution (NACP)  to meet its  objectives. 
    • Though a network of AQI monitoring stations are in place, there is a need for strengthening and expanding these along with the geographical area to cover the air-shed areas in order to make it more robust and accurate. 
    • The Ministry has begun this work earlier as part of roll-out of NACP and various think-tanks like IITs, IIMs and NITs have been made local partners for different cities/towns.
  • As the problem of AQ is mostly not a localized phenomenon and is influenced by many factors beyond the control of a particular region, the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) is now focusing on air-shed management approach.
  • Construction & Demolition Waste Management was a priority of the Government and that the Government would seek the support of the Commission for the same.

With the launching of the National AQ Index in 2015, we now have reliable data of AQ with respect to 42 million plus cities from 2017 onwards. The MoEF&CC is also coming up with the rules for implementation of Construction and Demolition Waste Control so as to control dust, a major source of pollution in cities.

National Air Quality Index (NAQI)

  • NAQI was launched in 2015 with outline ‘One Number - One Color - One Description’ for the common man to judge the air quality within his vicinity.
  • It has been launched for monitoring the quality of air in major urban centers across the country on a real-time basis and enhancing public awareness for taking mitigating actions.
  • The measurement of air quality is based on eight pollutants, namely - Particulate Matter (PM10), Particulate Matter (PM2.5), Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2), Sulphur Dioxide (SO2), Carbon Monoxide (CO), Ozone (O3), Ammonia (NH3), and Lead (Pb).
  • It has been developed by the Central Pollution Control System (CPCB) in consultation with IIT-Kanpur and an expert group comprising medical and air-quality professionals.

 National Clean Air Programme (NCAP)

  • The programme was launched in 2019 to reduce particulate matter (PM) pollution by 20-30% in at least 102 cities by 2024. It is a scheme to provide the States and the Centre with a framework to combat air pollution.
  • It is a pollution control initiative that was launched by the Ministry of Environment with the intention to cut the concentration of coarse (particulate matter of diameter 10 micrometer or less, or PM10) and fine particles (particulate matter of diameter 2.5 micrometer or less, or PM2.5) by at least 20% in the next five years, with 2017 as the base year for comparison.
  • Following reports by WHO and the air quality data obtained, 102 cities from 23 States and UTs have been chosen as non-attainment cities (consistently showing poorer air quality than the National Ambient Air Quality Standards). With the exception of Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Bengaluru, most of those chosen are tier two cities.

15th Finance Commission

  • The first Finance Commission was set up in 1951 and there have been fifteen so far. Each of them has faced its own unique set of challenges.
  • The Fifteenth Finance Commission was constituted on 27 November 2017, under the chairman NK Singh, against the backdrop of 
    • the abolition of Planning Commission (as also of the distinction between Plan and non-Plan expenditure) and 
    • the introduction of the goods and services tax (GST), which has fundamentally redefined federal fiscal relations.
  • 15th FC was to submit its report for the period 2020-2025. However, its term was extended to 2020-26
    • Hence, apart from the present interim report(2020-21), it will submit its second report for 2021-22 to 2025-26.
  • New dynamic: The reorganisation of the State of Jammu and Kashmir into two Union Territories - one of Jammu and Kashmir and one of Ladakh - presents a new dynamic. 
  • Formula that decides a State’s share

Weight in 15th FC


Weight in 14th FC


 (2011 Census)



(17.5 - 1972, 10 - 2011 Census)





Forest and Ecology



Income Distance



Demographic Performance



Tax Effort



About Central Pollution Control Board(CPCB)

  • The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), statutory organisation, was constituted in September, 1974 under the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974. 
  • Further, CPCB was entrusted with the powers and functions under the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981.
  • It serves as a field formation and also provides technical services to the Ministry of Environment and Forests of the provisions of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986.
  • Principal Functions of the CPCB:
    • To promote cleanliness of streams and wells in different areas of the States by prevention, control and abatement of water pollution
    • To improve the quality of air and to prevent, control or abate air pollution in the country.