In June this year, the Jharkhand government will start its “Star Rating Program,” which will be mandatory for several industries, to reduce pollution through increased transparency. The programme, currently being run on a pilot basis, will gather emission data from various industries in the state and rate the firms according to their compliance.
Starting June 5, the rating programme will focus on particulate matter (PM) emissions out of 17 categories of “highly polluting” industries and every year a new emission parameter will be added. In a phased manner all pollutants will be covered under the star rating programme.
“For the last one-and-half year we have worked on data quantity. It required several meetings — both sectoral and one-on-one — with a lot of stakeholders such as the industries, the service providers etc. Through the Continuous Emission Monitoring System (CEMS), we have emission data on our servers every 15 minutes now. After making sense of this data we will give ratings,” said Jharkhand State Pollution Control Board (JSPCB) Chairman A K Rastogi.
He said that the programme would encourage healthy competition for better regulatory compliance. “As of today, data is there, but it needs an expert to read it”.
More importantly, “the star rating program will empower the public by increasing awareness on the compliance levels of industries in their vicinity and thus, it hopes to engage people in the regulatory process,” said Rastogi. “For example, people will now know which industry is the polluter in their area and this will become part of their discourse…Bigger companies will have a lot a stake in it”.
A five-star rating will be given to companies that have 50 per cent of the maximum allowed PM emissions. A one-star rating will be for companies whose emissions are 25 per cent more than the prescribed limit.
In Jharkhand, the sectors that belong to the highly polluting categories of industries include Captive Power Plants, Integrated Power Plants, Integrated Steel, Sponge Iron, Cement, Copper Smelter etc.
The initiative was taken after the Jharkhand State Pollution Control Board (JSPCB) collaborated with the University of Chicago Trust (UC Trust) as knowledge partners.
The UC Trust Program Associate in Jharkhand Deepak Kumar said that Jharkhand is the third state in the country to implement the star rating program. “Once it is implemented we will be able to read the data and check if the data received is accurate and reliable and will be in a position to find loopholes, if any. Odisha and Maharashtra too have implemented the star rating system, however, the data collection happens once a month. Jharkhand will be the first state to do a star rating in other emission parameters such as Sulphur and Nitrogen oxides”.
On the incentives, Rastogi added: “The board will decide on it. Consent To Operate certificates may be given to the companies for a longer period without going through the hassle of periodic renewals based on their compliance in the ratings”.