Sugar, distilleries sector most polluting in Maharashtra
Around 46% of the state’s highly polluting units are that of sugar and distilleries, reveals analysis of the latest emission data of industries. Data released in August last year had also revealed that sugar and distillery was the most polluting sector in the state.
The Maharashtra’s star-rating programme, which is jointly run by the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB), Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago (EPIC-India) and few other institutes, has released the latest data of stack emissions for 140 industries across the state.
To provide information on environmental performance of the industries to public, the programme gives star ratings to industries based on the median concentration of latest stack (chimney) samples for particulate matter.
Among the 140, 26 industries got one-star rating which indicates that the particulate matter emitted by these units is 250 milligrams per normal metric cube (mg/NM3) or more, which is nearly twice the permissible standards. As per the standards laid down by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), the permissible limit for PM stack emissions is 150 mg/NM3.
Apart from this, about 37 industries have got two-star rating, indicating that their emissions are between 150-250 mg/NM3.
Data shows that majority of the one-star industries belong to the sugar and distilleries sector. “Most sugar industries are known to use low quality solid fuel. The anti-pollution devices installed by them are also badly maintained,” said Ishan Choudhary, the communications and outreach coordinator at EPIC-India.
Apart from it, sectors including chemicals, textiles and pharmaceuticals have highly polluting units. “This is a worrying factor and that is why we are counting on the public to be more interactive on the star-rating platform. If this happens, both the regulator and the industry will have to show more accountability,” added Choudhary.
Eighty-two new industries of the state have been added under the programme. Overall, emissions of more than 300 industries are being currently monitored. Industrial units of two recently added sectors — food processing, and glass and ceramics — have also been included.
The programme monitors industrial air pollution in 10 clusters of the state: Pune, Mumbai, Navi Mumbai, Nagpur, Thane, Nashik, Chandrapur, Aurangabad, Kolhapur and pockets of Gadchiroli.
Apart from industries, the programme has also made the ambient air quality data of over 25 cities accessible to the public. As per the latest information, the level of Respirable Suspended Particulate Matter (RSPM) was highest at Bandra, Ulhasnagar and Thane.