The Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) launched a new Star Rating Programme for air pollution on June 5, 2017–World Environment Day. The programme uses smoke-stack emissions data that MPCB is already collecting. But, since sampling results are not very comprehensible to the general public, MPCB is turning these pollution readings into an easy-to-understand Star Rating.

Under the new scheme, industries are rated based on the density of fine particulate pollution coming from their smoke stacks. The best performing industries receive five stars. Those with the highest density of emissions receive only one star. Industry, government and the public can then log onto the MPCB website to access the report cards for plants in their area.

India is making headway to ambitious goals for clean energy, such as solar and wind power. Between 2017 and 2040, India will account for 15% of the estimated $10.2 trillion global investment in power generation. As these technologies get better and cheaper, the costs of going green have fallen. Earlier this year, the cost of solar power (Rs 2.62/kWh) fell below the market price for coal-generated power by the National Thermal Power Corporation, India’s largest power utility (Rs. 3.2/kWh), as The Guardian reported on May 10, 2017. The cost of solar energy could drop a further 66% by 2040 over current costs, according to the Bloomberg New Energy Outlook 2017 report. Yet, progress in technology alone will not be enough for industry to take up cleaner growth.

Maharashtra knows the benefits and the by-products of growth. For instance, the heavy industry centre of Chandrapur is ranked the most polluted city in India as of 2016 with an air-quality index (AQI) of 824. The MPCB regulates industries in Maharashtra and requires advanced control technology. What more can be done to bring this pollution down? In an area as thick with cement, power, and other heavy industries as Chandrapur, it is hard for the public to know the answer to this question…

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