The Ministry of Environment removed 25 industries from the highly polluting list as it released a new classification of industries during the International Conference on ‘Rule of Law For Supporting the 2030 Development Agenda/Sustainable Development Goals’ in New Delhi. “The exercise of re-categorization was being carried out for last one year. This is a landmark decision to give a fair picture of the industries,” said Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Prakash Javadekar.
Based on the levels of pollution emitted, the industries have been re- classified into Red, Orange, Green and White. With ‘Red’ denoting the critically polluting industries and ‘White’ the least polluting industries.
Air conditioner, air cooler, electronic, electric, chalk making, fly ash brick industries are some of the few that have been classified as white industries. On the Pollution Index famed by the Ministry which rates level of industries between 0-100, the white industries are those with a score up to 20. These are exempted from obtaining any environmental clearance or ‘Consent to Operate’ for the setting up of a plant. Instead these 36 industries will merely have to intimate the State Pollution Control Boards or Pollution Control Boards.
“The old system of categorization was creating problems for many industries and was not reflecting the pollution of the industries. The new categories will remove this lacuna and will give clear picture to everyone,” said Javadekar.
The new rule will do away with the required assessment by the government allowing companies to conduct self-assessment of their environmental impacts. Additionally, the conditions for operationalization of ‘Red’ industries are left open ended. The Ministry’s statement that “No Red category of industries shall normally be permitted in ecologically fragile area.” hint at the possibility of such industries operating despite being labelled as highly polluting. This after 25 industries have already been removed from this list.
The re-categorization says the Ministry is aimed at improving the “ease of doing business” in line with the Central government’s pet project ‘Make-in-India’. “Twenty-five industrial sectors which were not critically polluting were also earlier categorized as Red. This was creating wrong impression to everyone”, said Javadekar.
The three-day Conference was organized by National Green Tribunal NGT), Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change, Ministry of Water Resources and United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to deliberate upon environmental issues such as climate change and disaster management, threat to marine environment, waste management and air pollution.