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Going Up in Smoke

Quality of air and water arguably has the most immediate impact on the lives of citizens. Access to knowledge about the quality of air and water in their surroundings is therefore essential for a democracy’s health, literally and figuratively. Online Continuous Emission or Effluent Monitoring System (OCEMS) is designed to continuously display emission levels from specific industries online, on the websites of the respective state/union territory pollution boards. The Supreme Court, in a 2017 judgement, had mandated that all the Pollution Control Boards in India enable public access of OCEMS data. Three years after the apex court’s judgment, half of the boards are yet to comply with its direction. Many others are only partially compliant. This lack of compliance to the Supreme Court direction is a hindrance to the citizens’ right to clean environment.