CSE’s new rating report finds most are not
Odisha, Telangana, Tamil Nadu and Madhya Pradeshboards/committees rated the most transparent among 35 such organisations studied
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New Delhi, August 12, 2021: A majority of India’s pollution control agencies remain closed entities when it comes to sharing information with the public. A new rating study by Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) has found that a mere handful of India’s pollution control boards and authorities are adequately putting out environmental and governance information intothe public domain.
TRANSPARENCY INDEX: Rating of pollution control boards on public disclosure – as the study is titled –has assessed the data disclosure performance of 29 state pollution control boards (PCBs) and six pollution control committees from across the country. Of these, only 17 boards and committees scored 50 per cent or above. These 17 are from Odisha, Telangana, Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal, Goa, Karnataka, Haryana, Chhattisgarh, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, Kerala, Maharashtra, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Andhra Pradesh and Rajasthan.
Says Nivit Kumar Yadav, programme director, Industrial Pollution Unit, CSE: “State PCBs are entrusted with several functions under the provisions of the Water Act, 1974; Air Act, 1981; Water Cess Act, 1977; and various rules and notifications issued under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986. One of these functions under Section 17(C) of the Air and Water Acts is to collect and disseminate information related to air and water pollution and also about its prevention, control or abatement. The law asks the boards to share the data in public domain. But this is rarely done in practice.”
Shreya Verma, programme officer, Industrial Pollution Unit, CSE, and author of the study explains the methodology: “For this study, CSE collected data from two sources -- websites of SPCBs/PCCs and their annual reports. The study has evaluated the information shared by SPCBs/PCCs during the last four tofive years (2016-21) and uses 25 indicators that provide a broader assessment on the type and amount of information shared. A few key indicators used in the study include the availability of information on direction/show cause/closure notices issued by boards, information on public hearings and EIA reports, non-attainment cities and polluted river stretches etc.”
Key findings of the report
Governance and functioning-related data remains paper-bound: Information on functioning, actions taken by a board against polluting industries, public hearing data on new projectsetcare rarely disclosed or remain difficult to access on the websites.For instance,
Limited data on current pollution levels: Data indicating the current pollution levels – air pollutants, wasteetc– the basic indicators of environment health,is missing. Most boards display inadequate data, indicating no trends. More so, even details on upcoming projects and grievances of the general public of the locality are hardly displayed.
Says Verma: “The study has also found a lack of uniformity in displaying data -- for instance, all the SPCBs/PCCssurveyed have different website formats, which makes accessing information quite difficult. Similarly, there is no format for annual reports: hence,the information available varies from board to board.”
Nivitadds: “Improving transparency is a ‘must’when it comes to state pollution control boards. Putting in the public domain crucial pollution-related information, data and details of actions taken is critical – it can help policy-makers take the discussions to the next level of pollution management, and it can also reassure the people about efficiencyof these boards and committees.SPCBs and SPCCs,therefore, must focus urgently to become more transparent by putting out data and improving the quality of their outreach for public engagement.”
For more details or for interviews, please contact Sukanya Nair of The CSE Media Resource Centre, firstname.lastname@example.org, 8816818864
|TRANSPARENCY INDEX: Rating of pollution control boards on public disclosure|