As the wealthiest and most industrialized state in India, the policy challenges of Maharashtra are often a glimpse into the future for other states looking to catch up. In the same vein, many solutions developed by Maharashtra provide a road-map for other governments.
Today, the state faces several serious environmental challenges. With 17 cities including Mumbai, Maharashtra tops the environment ministry’s list of 102 “non-attainment cities”, where pollution levels aren’t meeting the required air quality protocols. Bringing Maharashtra’s particulate concentrations down to the WHO guideline would increase average life expectancy of its citizens by 2.9 yrs, according to the Air Quality Life Index.
That said, action has been taken to address the issue. A couple of years ago, the state kicked off the Maharashtra Star Rating Program, involving the mandatory public rating of several large industrial plants, with a growing number of factories coming into the fold. Under the scheme, first-time factory pollution data was made public, which has since been followed by the states of Odisha and Jharkhand. Both states are now developing their own rating programs. Likewise, a number of river water quality action plans have been drawn up, though the jury is still out on how effective they have been.
Nevertheless, it is clear that much more needs to be done.