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Pollution Control in India

By Purnima Menon, EVP & Chief Marketing Officer & Chief Sustainability Officer, CSS Corp

Why pollution control matters for business?

Imagine a situation in 2030 when cities in India will be rationed less than 30 liters per day per household. Or in 2050 we may have to walk around with oxygen support supplements, because clean air would be such a scarcity? I am not over imagining this, these are real scenarios to think about.

My worry is - Will India have an environment to conserve by the 21st century? Let’s face it, India is already one of the most polluted countries in the world. And if we are not doing anything about it now, when will be ever be able to manage this problem already morphing into epic proportions?

Most of the Indian rivers are today toxic beyond compare. Groundwater, a major source of drinking water, is also becoming polluted and extremely scarce. Air pollution in Indian cities is also growing rapidly. While the government and civic bodies are creating regulatory mechanisms to control pollution, isn’t it time enterprises who are a key contributor in this space come together and do something about this? Today in India, enterprises are increasingly coming together in their own ways to mitigate the effect of pollution and other environmental hazards. Portions of the company’s profits are being invested in creating a cleaner and greener ecosystem. A key element of organizational success assumes the ability to run a clean business.

Successful green enterprises are now able to:

1. Reduce health risk and liability cost

2. Reduce operational cost

3. Provide better quality of life - healthy employees work best to their potentials

4. Gain good reputation and recognition as socially conscious enterprise.

Then & Now: The Evolution and Growth of Pollution Control

In India all pollution control measures are based on the three major acts: The Water act (1974), The Air act (1981) and The Environment protection Act of (1986). Recently pollution limits of industries have been tightened, decades old and outdated norms have been updated. However, there are still gaps in matching global best practice and control measures. For instance, Orange and Green category industries are not rigorously monitored as the Red category industries. Pollution control measures and solutions are not based on technological advancement.

Expanding scope of Pollution Control

I believe corporates have to ensure stricter and tighter compliance by putting more efforts around influencing their suppliers to adhere on the compliance mandatorily, taking up more pollution control measures, even if the legal framework does not enforce the operation to do so. Expanding scope of Pollution control through company wide CSR activities: For instance, companies can adopt villages, polluted grounds, lakes, ponds etc. and restore them. Utilizing best available technology (BAT) like advanced water treatment techniques for zero water discharge, renewable energy (biogas), sensors efficient machineries, cloud solutions for environment data etc. so corporates can adopt practices to better their environment.

Relevancy of implementing proper Pollution Control Solutions in India

To be compliant, enterprises have to follow guidelines set by Pollution control board. Relevance of implementing pollution control measures should encourage enterprises to take on sustainability growth rate where reduction is achieved without compromising the environment. While Industrial growth is necessary, as it is vital for country’s GDP, the challenge for India will also be on adherence to pollution control measures based on triple-bottom line principle - economic, environment and social factors. The government also faces challenges in having pollution control rules without compromising industrial growth.

Current trends & innovations in Pollution control

Earlier companies adhered to the mandatory pollution measures set by the Govt. Now the companies are going forward and voluntarily setting targets such zero liquid discharge, carbon neutral etc. as a part of corporate stewardship initiatives. Major corporate houses have realized the importance of implementing pollution control measures, and are switching to best available technology (BAT) and other technological advancements such as – renewable energy, biogas, Cloud solutions, motion sensors, waste utilization and waste heat recovery etc. to strengthen corporate commitment on the journey towards environmental leaders. The government is also supporting the corporates actively by encouraging and implementing new programs to tackle pollution (Delhi odd even program as a short-term solution), Swatch Bharat schemes etc.

Enterprises have a far significant role to play in the management of Pollution Control. While governance and mandatory compliance is critical, corporates must also actively encourage its ecosystem of employees, vendors, and stakeholders, etc to come together and join the cause. Incentives and laxation of attendance rules during CSR activities, regular workshops for vendors and active support for the cause through social and digital media etc. will go a long way in raising awareness and support for their initiatives.

If things go the way they are, then we may not have any environment left to protect, by the 21st century. Enterprises have to mandatorily impose far stringent guidelines that allow greener practices to become a way of life. We cannot survive if there is no environment to survive in. And it is only a matter of time before these discussions will stop remaining articles but actually be on everybody’s agenda on a daily basis. Let us do our own bit and encourage those who are actively involved to ensure the momentum does not flag.

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