How transparent are India’s pollution control boards?

Source: Down To Earth

What is the News?

The Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) has released the report titled ‘Transparency Index — Rating of Pollution Control Boards on Public Disclosure’.

About CSE Transparency Index:
  1. The index assessed the data disclosure performance of 29 state pollution control boards and six pollution control committees from across the country.
  2. The study has evaluated the information shared by SPCBs/PCCs during the last four to five years (2016-21) and uses 25 indicators that provide a broader assessment of the type and amount of information shared. 
  3. A few key indicators used in the study include the availability of information on public hearings, non-attainment cities among others. 
Key Findings of the Transparency Index:
  1. Data Disclosure: Most of the State Pollution Control Boards(SPCBs) and Pollution Control Committees(PCCs) are non-transparent when it comes to sharing information with the public. Out of 29 boards, only 17 boards and committees scored 50% or above.
    • The pollution control boards of Odisha and Telangana were the top performers and had scored 67% in transparency.
  2. Limited data on current pollution levels: Data indicating that the current pollution levels – air pollutants, waste etc – and the basic indicators of environmental health are missing. Most boards display inadequate data, indicating no trends.
  3. Information on the compliance status of industries: One of the serious drawbacks found during the review of annual reports is the lack of information on the compliance status of industries under various acts and rules. 
  4. The index also mentions serious non-transparency regarding the information on public hearings, Board meetings also.
  5. Annual Reports: No initiative has been taken by 11 SPCBs and PCCs of the following states and Union territories in sharing their annual reports
Recommendations of the Transparency Index:
  1. There should be a uniform format for presenting annual reports and sharing information on websites. The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) should come up with a website format for the SPCBs / PCCs and guidelines for framing annual reports
  2. CPCB should come up with a website format for all SPCBs / PCCs for uploading information about the compliance history of industries at least for the grossly polluting. 
  3. All SPCBs must share Public hearing information online.
  4. Information related to waste management should be made available on the websites of the pollution control bodies.
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