Dharavi’s shadow economy of waste recycling has come at a heavy price for its residents and workers. The area was found to have the maximum variety of pollutants across the city during a study carried out by the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) in November 2010. During winter, the study revealed, the pollutants reach their maximum levels.
Called Air Quality Assessment, Emission Inventory and Source Apportionment study of Mumbai city, it threw up worrying details in connection with the open burning of waste in Dharavi. Among the seven locations studied – Colaba, Dadar, Dharavi, Khar, Andheri, Mahul and Mulund – the load of particulate matter (PM) was the highest in Dharavi. In a single day, 46.3 kg/day of particulate matter was released in Dharavi through open burning, and 144.09 kg/day of carbon dioxide was released.
“Studies revealed that since there are several different units in Dharavi that burn a lot of fuel and use chemicals, the sources of pollution were diverse,” said Rakesh Kumar, chief scientist and head, NEERI, Mumbai.
“With multiple sources of pollution and lack of chimneys across Dharavi, pollutants disperse very slowly, which is dangerous,” Kumar said. “The state, non-government organisations and local traders must work jointly to reduce the environment and health hazards.”