NEW DELHI: As several Indian cities continue to grapple with severe air pollution, a study reveals that while the State Pollution Control Boards (SPCBs) have expanded in the scope and scale of their work over the last two decades, their budget and manpower does not match up with the demands.
The study by the Centre for Chronic Disease Control (CCDC) released is based on-ground assessment of state pollution control boards in a few states to understand better the institutional and informational barriers which are hampering the progress of achieving the goals under the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS).
Primary research was conducted across eight cities - Lucknow, Patna, Ranchi, Raipur, Bhubaneswar, Vijayawada, Goa and Mumbai. Qualitative in-depth interviews were conducted with members of the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) and respective SPCBs, in addition to other stakeholders. It found that the leadership of SPCBs is staffed by civil servants who often lack the expertise necessary to effectively deliver on their mandate and are seen primarily as administrative positions.
“State board officials often have a diminished view of their own role and responsibility. This has shifted their perceived role from that of regulators to technical advisors... The lack of convergence and coordination between various departments at the State and Central level often mean that Pollution Control Board directives aimed at domains under the control of other departments are left unimplemented,” it said.
The study also found that while air quality monitoring is one of the areas of significant growth over the last decade, PCBs often lack the manpower or expertise to actively maintain and calibrate their instruments.
“The core environmental laws of the country state their raison d’etre as protecting human health, but a poor understanding or misinformation dominate the discourse around the epidemiology of air pollution in PCBs. Clarifying these misconceptions is essential,” it added.
Bhargav Krishna, one of the authors of the report from, Public Health Foundation of India said, “While interventions that strengthen the legislative framework such as the recent ordinance are welcome, they will be as ineffective as previous efforts unless the regulatory bodies that enable their implementation are strengthened with the technical and financial resources needed.”