Wednesday, 19th September 2018
The Problem of Air Pollution and the Maharashtra Star Rating Program
The Government of Maharashtra launched the 'Star Rating Website', in partnership with the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago (EPIC), which allows ordinary citizens to access data on air pollution in a simple and shareable form, empowering them to be equal partners in the fight for cleaner air. The ‘Star Rating Program’ was launched on June 5, World Environment Day. The program leverages smoke stack emissions data that MPCB is already collecting using some of the most advanced techniques in India. But, since sampling results are not very tangible to the general public, MPCB is turning these pollution readings into a star rating scheme. Under the new scheme, industries are rated based on the concentration of fine particulate pollution coming from their smoke stacks. Those with the lowest levels of pollution receive five stars. Those with the highest concentrations receive only one star. Industry, government and the public can then log onto the MPCB website to access the report cards for plants in their area (Available here: www.mpcb.info).
The Maharashtra ‘Star Rating Program’ is the first initiative in India that makes data available from approximately 20,000 industrial stack samples over multiple years. An easy and accessible way to inform residents of Maharashtra about the industry emissions around where they live and work, the program has the added benefit of infusing transparency and accountability into the system. Such transparency can bring about change in two possible ways. First, by making citizens more informed about the sources of pollution in their communities, citizens can then call for action. And second, by giving industries information on their pollution emissions in near to real time, they may discover inefficiencies in their system and opportunities for improvements such as installing new technologies.