Pollution control measures in India were initiated in 1853 through the Shore Nuisance (Bombay and Kolaba) Act of 1853. It was closely followed by the Oriental Gas Company Act of 1857. These Acts were aimed to control water and environmental pollution. After independence, Article 48 (A) of Part IV of the constitution read, “The State shall endeavour to protect and improve the environment and to safeguard the forests and wildlife of the country.” Article 51 A (g) imposed additional environment mandates on the Indian state.
Out of 180 countries in the Environmental Performance Index, India’s position is 177. According to a biennial report by Yale and Columbia Universities along with the World Economic Forum, India stands with the bottom five countries on the Environmental Performance Index (EPI) 2018 and has actually plummeted down 36 places, from its 141st position in 2016.
Central Pollution Control Board
The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) was initially named the ‘Central Board for the Prevention and Control of Water Pollution.’ That name was later amended to Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) under the Water (Prevention & Control of Pollution) Amendment Act, 1988 (No. 53 of 1988). The Central Pollution Control Board has been entrusted with the added responsibilities of controlling air pollution since May, 1981 under the provisions of the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981. Under section 18(1) (b) of the EP Act, 55 directions have been issued till date in 2018 by CPCB to control environmental pollution. Under Section 5 of the same Act, 1098 directions are issued till date in 2018 to implement orders to control pollution.
Controlling water pollution
Several steps are being taken by the Indian government to control water pollution. National Ganga River Basin Authority Programme is one of them.
Compliance verification of Grossly Polluting Industries
There are 764 Grossly Polluting Industries (GPIs) located in the 5 Ganga states (Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal). Directions under section 5 of Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 & under section 18(1)(b) of Water Act, 1974 were issued to GPIs for the compliance of standards of prescribed water quality criteria during April, 2015 to March, 2016.
Various government projects are also ongoing in India to check pollution of the other rivers like Yamuna, Narmada and Cauvery. The Central Pollution Control Board has developed water quality monitoring network in the country under the National Water Quality Monitoring Programme (NWMP) and executes it with the help of State Pollution Control Board (SPCB). The data received from SPCBs are compiled by CPCB annually and based on the trend of the obtained data, water quality status of the river is being identified. In recent years, CPCB has declared 34 river stretches as polluted in the central zone.
Community monitoring Ganga Shravan Abhiyan (GSA) mobile apps
This is an initiative of Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) and National Mission of Clean Ganga (NMCG) for easy and effective participation in Clean Ganga Mission through an app and web based system. Through this app, CPCB and NMCG offer a platform to receive/redress complaints. The platform gives all kinds of options:
1) Smart Phone with Android Operating Software
2) Simple Phone capable of sending SMS
3) Web/Internet access to the site to receive the data/opinion/suggestion/ complaint/feedback
4) The app can be downloaded from the web, Google Play Store or from the CPCB website
The app empowers citizens:
1. To check suitability of water for bathing, drinking near desired location
2. To report water pollution just by visualisation
3. To report water pollution with specific levels of pollutants using testing kits being provided by CPCB/NMCG
4. To inform exact location on maps using android devices
5. To report activities resulting in water pollution
6. To report any issue related to water pollution through SMS services
Controlling air pollution
Ambient air quality status under National Air Quality Monitoring Programme (NAMP): 2015-16
In order to prevent, control and abate air pollution, the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act was enacted in 1981. According to Section 2(b) of Air (Prevention and control of pollution) Act, 1981 ‘Air pollution’ has been defined as ‘the presence in the atmosphere of any air pollutant.’ As per Section 2(a) of Air (Prevention and control of pollution) Act, 1981 ‘Air Pollutant’ has been defined as ‘any solid, liquid or gaseous substance [(including noise)] present in the atmosphere in such concentration as may be or tend to be injurious to human beings or other living creatures or plants or property or environment. Therefore ambient air quality standard is developed as a policy guideline that regulates the effect of human activity upon the environment so that pollutant emission into the air can be regulated. Standards may specify a desired state or limit alterations.
National Ambient Air Quality Monitoring Programme
The Central Pollution Control Board is executing a nationwide National Air Quality Monitoring Programme (NAMP). NAMP was started in 1984 with seven stations in Agra and Anpara. The growth of operating Ambient Air Quality Monitoring Stations in the country is given in figure below. The ambient air quality monitoring network has 614 operating stations covering 254 cities/towns in 28 states and 5 Union Territories as on March 31, 2016.
Controlling noise pollution
CPCB in association with the State Pollution Control Boards has laid down National Ambient Noise Monitoring Network in 07 metropolitan cities and installed 35 Noise Monitoring Systems in Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai, Bangalore, Lucknow and Hyderabad (five stations in each) under Phase-I of the programme. The monitoring network has been extended to 70 stations.
Ambient air and noise monitoring during Diwali
It is necessary to conduct noise and air quality monitoring during this festival to understand the level of pollution and correlate it with the effectiveness of different abatement programmes. Like every year, this year too, the CPCB, State Pollution Control Boards and Pollution Control Committees carried out extensive ambient noise and air quality monitoring across the country.
Environmental training and public awareness
CPCB organises 24 training programmes through reputed training and professional institutes in various priority areas related to the environment. The government also takes initiative to increase public awareness and works with collaboration of NGOs to check pollution.
Notification of environmental standards
CPCB has set 20 environmental standards, out of which 6 standards (thermal power plan, common effluent treatment plant, sugar industry, diesel generating sets operated with LPG/NG, diesel generating sets operated with petrol and kerosene, diesel generating sets operated with diesel) have been notified.
Research activities of CPCB:
a. Optimisation and absorption of chromium in tanning process through process and chemical interventions.
b. Restricted operations from de-liming to chrome tanning stage comprising different process stages including washing before de-liming, pickling, basification and chrome tanning.
c. Process and chemical optimisation in all the operations undertaken by observing following steps:
i) Execution of conventional process with no chemical/process intervention.
ii) Process wherein, conventional de-liming agents (ammonia salts) are substituted and other chemical interventions are incorporated but without impro-visation in tanning drum and their configurations.
iii) Improvisation in tanning drum and their configuration.
The study included analysis of process specific waste-water for pH, COD, TDS, alkalinity, chloride and total chromium and physico-chemical properties in tanned hide/side. Wastewater samples is undertaken at CPCB ZO Lucknow laboratory, while characterisation of processed hides undertaken at their tannery. The findings have revealed that percentage uptake of chromium by the hides is subjected to process optimisation which could phenomenally increase to approx. 87% against the generally achieved level of 40-50%.
Online monitoring system
CPCB issued directions to all highly polluting industries in 2015. In order to sensitise relevant issues, CPCB also high-lighted the status of compliance by setting up an online monitoring system. Out of 3141 industries, so far 1529 of 17 category industries have already installed the online monitoring system and 780 industries are under process of installation on March 31, 2016. The online monitoring system is also implemented in food & beverages sector, slaughter houses sector, sugar sector, textile sector etc.
Municipal solid waste management
Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) as mandated under the Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016 coordinates with the State Pollution Control Boards (SPCBs)/Pollution Control Committees (PCCs) regarding implementation of the solid wastes management rules.
The Indian system has resisted automation and technological enhancement due to its population size. Sometimes, it is observed that a pollution generating industry is giving employment to a large number of people. Coming down hard on that industry may involve job cuts for many and may impact our fragile economy. Involving the latest pollution free technology is also difficult as it may aggravate the unemployment rates.