For the first time, the Environment Ministry is in the process of ranking the country’s most heavily polluted industrial clusters to ensure appropriate action.

A comprehensive Environment Protection Index, based on the study of about 80 industrial clusters from across the country will be released on December 21, Environment Minister, Jairam Ramesh has said.

“The idea is to identify them and ensure better or say revised enforcement of regulations,” he said.

The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) in collaboration with IIT-Delhi is in the process of developing yardsticks to be applicable at the national level on the industrial clusters in the country.

“Each of the industrial clusters will be ranked may be on a scale of 0-100; ranking will be based on their (clusters) sensitivity towards the environment. All available data on issues like water and air pollution, biodiversity conservation, land degradation and waste management are being assessed by scientists,” an environment ministry official said.

The cluster list includes 24 “environmental hotspots” which were identified by the government in 1989, such as Wapi and Ankleshwar in Gujarat, Ranipet in Tamil Nadu, Trombay near Mumbai, Korba in Chhattisgarh and Singaruli in Uttar Pradesh.

“Some of these might be removed in the new list in case their pollution level has come down at the permissible standards,” the official added.

This is for the first time that such an attempt has been made by the Environment Ministry to benchmark the clusters, Mr. Ramesh said, adding that depending on the scores, the clusters will be divided under two categories, “seriously polluted” and “critically polluted.”

“Once they are ranked, steps would be taken to identify the effluent sources and subsequently an appropriate action will be planned for improving their environmental status,” the Minister added.

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