Researchers collaborate with the Indian state of Maharashtra on a transparency initiative to bring down industrial pollution.
To tackle the growing danger of air pollution, the government of Maharashtra state today launched India’s first five-star rating system for industries. The system and its accompanying website are the product of a long-term collaboration of the state’s pollution control board with researchers from Evidence for Policy Design (EPoD) at Harvard Kennedy School, The Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL), the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago (EPIC), and Yale University.
Under the new program, industries will be rated from one to five stars based on their emissions. The system has the potential to reduce pollution by leveraging information already being collected by regulators and providing it to both industry and the public.
“We are working on finding new solutions to confronting the issue of air pollution. People must be aware of the air quality in their area and must have easy access to air pollution data collected by state regulators. This exemplary effort by MPCB will engage civil society,” said Chief Minister Shri Devendra Fadnavis, who launched the program on World Environment Day by unveiling a new section of the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board’s (MPCB) website where the information is available on an interactive and user-friendly platform.
“This is an opportunity for Maharashtra—which is one of the fastest-growing industrialized states in India and also one that has in recent years been extremely keen on good governance—to take the lead on defining how a star-ratings scheme can function, and to show how just providing information and possibly positive role models in terms of 5-star industries can lead to better performance,” said Rohini Pande, another principal investigator on the project and director of Evidence for Policy Design (EPoD) at Harvard Kennedy School.
While similar programs have been launched in the United States, Canada, China, Ghana, Philippines and Ukraine, the Maharashtra program will be the first to actually measure the impact on emissions with the help of researchers. “MPCB’s program is path-breaking by providing the public with critical information and rigorously testing its impact on pollution emissions,” said Professor Michael Greenstone, one of the principal investigators on the project and director of the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago (EPIC). “We are excited to partner with MPCB, a global leader, to measure the benefits of this program for the people of Maharashtra.”
The Maharashtra Star Rating Programme is the first initiative in India that makes available data from approximately 20,000 industrial stack samples over multiple years. Users can now log onto the MPCB website to access the report cards for each industry. They can then filter industry information by sector, region and star-rating.
Earlier, MPCB conducted workshops with industries to introduce them to the program, and their response was encouraging.
“The industry stakeholders were keen to learn more about their rating and requested guidance on how to decrease their pollution emissions,” said Shri Satish Gavai, Additional Chief Secretary of the Environment Department of the Government of Maharashtra and Chairman of MPCB. “We think this will also improve the ease of doing business, as information on industry environmental performance will be more easily available.”
“We look forward to initiating more creative ways of environmental stewardship, and are working with academic partners to test the effectiveness of programmes like this one,” said Dr. P. Anbalagan, Member Secretary, MPCB. The MS, MPCB, Dr. VM Motghare, Joint Director, Air Pollution Control and Shri SC Kollur, Scientific Officer shaped the program and organized various activities such as workshops in Nagpur, Pune, and Mumbai to orient industries across Maharashtra and solicit feedback from them.
The program has been developed in collaboration with Tata Trusts, the International Growth Centre (IGC), and Private Enterprise Development in Low-Income Countries (PEDL) and USAID.