Here, not there

the Central Pollution Control Board (cpcb) has finished work on the first part of the zoning atlas that classifies areas according to their ability to house particular industries. The first effort of its kind in India, the atlas currently covers 17 districts spread across 12 states.

The Zoning Atlas for Siting of Industries (based on environmental considerations) , prepared for the government, industrialists, regulatory authorities and the general public, classifies the environment in a district. Nine zones have been demarcated within the districts, according to the potential of the area to absorb pollution. For instance, zone i disallows air or water polluting industries. Only those with low emission levels - such as industries which use boilers that do not use coal - have been permitted.But zone ix accommodates all types of polluting industries. Says N Raghu Babu, environmental engineer with the cpcb, who coordinated the project, 'It will provide ready environmental information on the site most suited and also help in developing infrastructural facilities.' The districts for which maps have been printed so far, include Imphal, Bishnupur and Thoubals (Manipur), Chindwara (Madhya Pradesh), Palakkad (Kerala), Solan (Himachal Pradesh), Panch Mahals (Gujarat) and Ghaziabad (Uttar Pradesh). These will be published as soon as maps of the other nine districts are printed.

However, according to experts, zoning atlases do have their limitations. Says a cpcb zonation expert, "The zoning atlas is not mandatory: there are no legalities attached to it. At best, it provides quick references for framing government policies and provides a ready environmental impact assessment to the industrialist." Says A K Chaturvedi of the environment management division of the Confederation of Indian Industry, "We welcome the zoning atlas as it will help in identifying the right site. But industries have not been involved in the preparation of the maps."

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