Pollution control boards must intensify actions
The Pollution Control Boards should be similarly ranked, with modifications. Public participation should be given more weightage.Updated: Jun 22, 2020, 06:26 IST
State Pollution Control Boards are severely underperforming. The case of the Assam Pollution Control Board’s action in the ongoing Indian Oil fire case, which has devastated the global biodiversity hot spot, Dibru Sikhowa, is a case in point.
Why not learn from the Swachh Bharat Sarvekshan (SBS) — a competitive survey and ranking of Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) — to foster institutional action? The SBS relies on the ULBs to fill in the information, and sends out teams for verification. The public is also asked to participate. Of course, this has loopholes, many ULBs claim more than they do, but it forces them to act more swiftly in many areas ranking high on the survey.
Given the high toll of pollution, institutional change is urgent.
The Pollution Control Boards should be similarly ranked, with modifications. Public participation should be given more weightage.
The space given to public opinion will also serve as an incentive for the PCBs to improve public engagement and respond to complaints. Second, pollution control boards are understaffed. It isn’t all lack of funds — it’s just poor management.
Scientific posts remain unfilled — recruitment is slow, and technical capacity remains low. Being scored on this could change this. Pollution costs lives and lost lives cost the country. One can offer several remedies, but incentives for institutional strengthening are key.
The SBS is an evolving process, yet it is instructive. A Pradooshan Sarvekshan could be the low-cost incentive we need to kick-start pollution abatement.