#CPCB, #Industry, #CEPI

The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) has revised the criterion to assess Comprehensive Environmental Pollution Index (CEPI) across industrial clusters in the country, an exercise that first began in 2009-10. The pollution watchdog has asked state pollution control boards and pollution control committees to do a fresh assessment of industrial clusters based on the new parameters and identify critically polluted areas and seriously polluted areas.

According to the CPCB officials, state boards, state governments, industrial associations and stakeholders had sought revision of CEPI criterion to omit subjective parameters such as newspaper reports and potential affected populations.

In 2009-10, the CPCB had carried out the first comprehensive environmental assessment in 88 prominent industrial clusters. The assessment showed that 43 industrial clusters were critically polluted areas (CPA), based on a high score on the comprehensive environmental pollution index.

Of the 43, the three states of Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra alone had 17 CPA’s. In 2010, based on the CEPI scores, the union environment ministry under Jairam Ramesh imposed a moratorium on consideration of developmental projects in all 43 CPAs. Though the moratorium was lifted in a phased manner, it is still in force in Ankaleshwar, Vatva, Chandrapur, Vellore (North Arcot), Jodhpur, Pali and Najafgarh drain basin.

Unlike the environment ministry under United Progressive Alliance, the current dispensation prefers giving time to errant industries for complying with pollution norms rather than imposing moratoriums or shutting them down indefinitely.

In the revised CEPI, significant weightage of 50 per cent has been assigned to the quality of ambient environment comprising of air quality, solid waste and wastewater.

State pollution control board’s have to undertake environmental quality monitoring in the critically polluted area through third party laboratories and the monitoring has to be done twice a year in pre-monsoon and post-monsoon season. All the polluting sources identified in the industrial clusters have to be notified and brought in public domain on state pollution control board websites.

Besides this, the scale of industrial activity, health related statistics and compliance status of industries will be accounted for to measure CEPI. Speaking on the revised CEPI criteria, a top CPCB official said, “We have done away with subjective factors to bring in more accuracy. Health statistics have to be collected from five top hospitals around industrial clusters. We have asked state boards to finish the fresh CEPI assessment by the end of this year.”