On World Environment Day 2019, the Jharkhand State Pollution Control Board (JSPCB) shared its vision for tackling growing environmental pollution. In keeping with the spirit of this year’s theme “Beat Air Pollution”, the JSPCB informed a gathering of industries, NGOs, and other key stakeholders of a number of efforts being taken to curb air pollution affecting the state.

JSPCB announced that Tata Steel in Jamshedpur and Maithon Power Ltd (joint venture of Tata Power & Damodar Valley Corporation) in Dhanbad have enrolled to participate in the voluntary phase of Star Rating Program, which is aimed at increasing data transparency to limit dangerous particulate matter (PM) pollution from 17 highly polluted industries. This initiative was launched on March 1 as part of a collaboration with the University of Chicago Trust.

“During voluntary phase, JSPCB Officials and experts from the University of Chicago will work together with industries from two key sectors—power and steel—to carry out research and data analysis, and put in place mechanisms to increase the reliability and confidence of the PM CEMS data,” said AK Rastogi, Chairman, JSPCB. “After the voluntary phase, from 05 June, 2020, the program will become mandatory for all 17 categories of highly polluting industries. We also have the vision for gradually adding other pollutants (e.g., SO2, NO2) to the rating criteria. We will acknowledge and reward the good performers in due course,” he concluded.

The star rating program creates a unique opportunity for the industries to boost their eco-sustainability profile and showcase that they are taking steps towards improving the environment. It is designed to encourage healthy competition among industries for better regulatory compliance by reducing overall emission in the state.

“Globally, countries have embraced environmental performance rating and disclosure as an important regulatory tool. As industries start signing up for the program, the people of Jharkhand will become informed and can become part of the regulatory process,” says Michael Greenstone, Director, Energy Policy Institute and Tata Centre for Development at UChicago.

During the course of the implementation, there will be extensive public engagement as well. A web portal will be developed that will help the public to check whether industries in their vicinity are fair in their environmental compliance and empower them to strengthen regulations through public participation.

Recognising the role of real-time data collection and counter-checking for better regulation on emission levels, JSPCB is directing all these 17 highly polluting industries to install Remote Calibration facility for performance check of online continuous emission monitoring systems (OCEMS) and to ensure that data received is accurate and reliable.

The Board has also made it mandatory for bolling mills, big stone crusher units and railway sidings to install PM10 analysers with online connectivity to JSPCB portal. In addition, JSPCB is also working on a mobile air pollution monitoring project for more dependable data collection.