The release of effluents in rivers and towns choking with air pollution are some of the consequences of industrial pollution that currently plague India. As many as 102 cities in the country have alarming pollution levels, according to the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), but only 73 have submitted a plan of remedial action to the pollution watchdog. Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Nagpur and Jaipur are among the cities that are yet to submit their plans, the CPCB said in August.

Earlier in May, the World Health Organisation said that Delhi and Varanasi were among 14 Indian cities that figured in a global list of the 20 most polluted cities in terms of high levels of particulate matter less than 2.5 microns (PM 2.5) that are considered extremely harmful to health.

However, the launch of a star rating system in Maharashtra on World Environment Day on June 5 in 2017, and more recently in Odisha, has given hope that things are likely to improve in the next few years. This is in turn expected to improve environmental compliance that will help check greenhouse gas emissions.

Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, who launched the programme in his province on September 17, said: “The star rating programme will help the public to find out whether industries in their vicinity are fair in their environmental compliance, and empower them to strengthen regulations through public participation.” On the occasion, he unveiled a website — — where citizens can access the information.

While the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board worked with researchers from the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago (EPIC-India) and others to launch the programme, the Odisha State Pollution Control Board’s (OSPCB) star-rating programme is one of the first transparency initiatives in India that discloses pollution data from the online monitoring systems to the public in an accessible manner…