Direct air emissions from more than 150 textile dyeing and printing facilities in an Indian city are to be measured in a new pilot project aimed at tackling pollution. The Emission Trading Scheme, being launched in the industrial city of Surat where textile and dye factories are a major source of air pollution, is the first of its kind in India and could be extended nationally if it proves effective. Continuous emission monitoring system (CEMS) devices have been installed at factories to measure the amount of PM10 particles, often described as coarse particles, being emitted.

Any which breach an emission cap of 150 milligrams of PM10 particles per cubic metre will have to buy extra capacity from factories which have not reached the limit. The aim is to ensure that factories across the sector in the city, in the North-Western State of Gujurat, stay within the limit by trading permits. Although factories can buy and sell permits among themselves, the total quantity of permits are fixed, ensuring that air pollution standards are met.

It is expected to reduce air pollution at a low cost to both the government and industry, as well as pave the way for similar trading schemes. The emission trading scheme was initiated by the national and State Governments in partnership with the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change.

Parag Dave, Regional Officer for the Gujurat Pollution Control Board, told: “This is a first-of-its-kind pilot project in India. Depending on its success, this project will be replicated in other parts of the state and country.”

Air pollution contributed to the deaths of at least 1.2 mn Indians in 2017 – and the concentration of particulate matter is said to be eight times the level of World Health Organisation standards. Pollution control authorities in Surat have been working on the impact of emissions trading, with researchers at the University of Chicago and Harvard University, since 2011.