A study conducted by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) has offered justification for what environmental activists in the State have been saying all along.

Mangalore in Dakshina Kannada and Bhadravati in Shimoga district are two of the 43 most polluted industrial centres in the country according to the study published recently.

The pollution levels at these 43 centres have touched “critical levels”, says the study which covered 88 of the most polluted industrial hubs in the country.

Based on the findings of the report, the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests has recommended the imposition of a moratorium on industrialisation in these 43 centres. The extent of pollution has been assessed numerically by compiling a Comprehensive Environmental Pollution Index (CEPI) where scores have been awarded on a scale of 0 to 100. The score is a consolidated figure of air, water and soil pollution levels. The CEPI will be the benchmark for grading industrial pollution and will be measured every two years.

The study has concluded that those centres with a CEPI score in excess of 70 have been “critically” polluted. And centres with scores between 60 and 70 have been “severely” polluted.

While Mangalore (73.68) and Bhadravati (72.33) fall into the first list which contains 43 centres, three other hubs in Karnataka fall into the second list of “severely” polluted centres. Raichur has scored 68.07, Bidar 67.64 and Peenya industrial area in Bangalore has scored 65.11 CEPI points.

The CEPI scores range between 88.50 (Ankleshwar, Gujarat) and 44.55 (Digboi, Assam).

However, activists feel that this is too little too late. Vidya Dinker told The Hindu that a study such as the one conducted by the CPCB should have been conducted before the clearance was awarded to the phase one of the Mangalore Special Economic Zone Ltd.

She questioned the authenticity of the studies conducted by other agencies about the existing levels of pollution in the region. “While clearing the MSEZ these agencies said that the existing pollution levels were under acceptable limits. Either these agencies were lying or the CPCB report is false,” she said.

Based on the new report, the Krishi Bhoomi Samrakshana Samiti, which is fighting against the Mangalore Special Economic Zone, has decided to agitate for scrapping of the phase one of the MSEZ or rethink on the kind of industries that can be allowed in the SEZ.