In a decisive step to improve monitoring for industrial emissions, the Jharkhand State Pollution Control Board (JSPCB), today, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the University of Chicago Trust (UC Trust) making way for the announcement of a star rating program for industries in the state. The UC Trust through Tata Centre for Development (TCD) and Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago (EPIC India) will support JSPCB in rolling out the star rating program that categorizes industries from 1-star to 5-stars, with 1-star being the least compliant and 5-stars being the most compliant to pollution standards set by the regulator.

“The Star Rating Program will build healthy competitiveness among industries, encourage them in improving regional air quality by reducing harmful emission”, said Chief Secretary Sudhir Tripathi, during the event, which was attended by a wide range of stakeholders, starting from industries to civil society and academicians to bureaucrats.

“We are home to 1000+ small to large industries, with 81 industrial plants belonging to 17 highly polluting sectors. Over the last few years, JSPCB has taken several progressive steps, starting from adopting real-time monitoring of effluents from the industries to going online with the entire process of applying for consent to establish and operate. The decision to collaborate with TCD and EPIC India is in line with our constant pursuit of bringing the best-in-class expertise and policy knowhow into the domain of environmental governance.,” said JSPCB Chairman A. K. Rastogi. “The star rating program is a step forward in ensuring transparency in compliance to pollution standards”, added JSPCB member-secretary Rajeev Lochan Bakshi.

Speaking about the collaboration, Ken Lee, Executive Director, EPIC India, said, “Jharkhand government’s commitment to transparency and accountability is encouraging. We are excited to see the scope of our engagement expanding beyond the five star rating program, with the government taking great interest in adapting national and international best practices to address key environmental challenges of the state. Today’s workshop has elicited a very positive response from the industries and I am optimistic that our collaboration will help JSPCB advance its goals of providing even cleaner environment to the citizens of Jharkhand.”

While JSPCB has been collecting data on industrial air pollution emissions through a Continuous Emission Monitoring System (CEMS), with this new collaboration, TCD and EPIC India will provide support in designing standard operating processes, inspection protocols, lab reports, and provide technical assistance to JSPCB officials in leading the calibration of CEMS devices and ensuring high-quality data collection across all industries.

“Star Rating Program drives home a very important point: what gets measured, gets improved. By virtue of having worked closely with Maharashtra, Odisha and other state governments towards improving environmental and economic outcomes, I am sure this collaboration will go a long way in improving pollution enforcement in Jharkhand as well. The forging of this partnership echoes the vision of TCD, which is to identify evidence-based solutions that can bring change in the real world.,” said Leni Chaudhuri, Country Director, TCD.