As air, water and noise pollution levels continue to rise in the city and an alarmed state government starts exploring options to bring them down, as reported in HT’s September 13 edition, both state and civic authorities hope Mumbaiites will play a more active role in reducing pollution and making their city a healthier place than it currently is. Citizens can make a difference at individual levels as well as through community participation.
Small groups of citizens across the city are already doing their bit to reduce carbon footprints and emissions, be it by conducting bulk tree plantation drives, by car pooling or cycling to work.
One such example is the Surya housing society in Charkop, Kandivli west, where parents have started car pooling so that they don’t have to drop children individually to school.
“We have at least 15 school-going children in our building so we group the children according to the school they go to and take turns to drop them to school,” said Suman Arya, a resident.
In its August 29 report, HT had reported that as per the civic body’s annual Environment Status Report, Mumbai’s emission load had shot up from 588.57 tonnes per day (tpd) in 2009-10 to 597.12 tpd in 2010-11.
The level of suspended particulate matter (SPM), the primary cause of respiratory illnesses, was 125 to 642 micrograms per cubic metre of air, against the Central Pollution Control Board’s standard of 140. And 24.6% of the water samples collected were found contaminated.
Many people have started getting involved in tree plantation drives in and around their buildings every monsoon.
“For several years now, we’ve been conducting tree plantation drives, holding workshops on making eco-friendly Ganpati idols and have eco-friendly immersions,” said Dr Vijay Sangole of Pestom Sagar society in Chembur, one of the highly polluted areas in the city, with high levels of ammonia and SPM.
A group of citizens from Powai who call themselves Young Environmentalist Program Trust have been working to improve the environment for the past few years by organising tree plantation drives, lights-off day and car-free day every year. “People have more than two cars and even for small distances they use cars. People should be more responsible towards their environment,” said Elsie Gabriel, founder of the trust.
People should also be proactive when it comes to protecting their localities, said officials of the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB).
“People should be alert about what’s happening in their localities and bring to the notice of authorities if there are violations,” said a senior MPCB officer, requesting anonymity.
Civic officials agree with the MPCB officials. Officials from the water department said residents should complain about leaking pipelines or illegal water connections that are sources of water contamination. “If citizens complain about a broken or leaking pipe, we can cover more ground,” said Rajiv Jalota, additional municipal commissioner.