If you are susceptible to respiratory ailments, the civic body’s latest data shows that your troubles are not going to end anytime soon. Big-ticket infrastructural projects, the construction frenzy, more and more vehicles on city roads are making the city noisier and more polluted than ever.
The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s annual yet-to-be-released Environment Status Report (ESR) also indicates that it may be best for your health to be out of the city in December, which has seen the highest levels of pollution across the BMC’s civic body’s six monitoring stations. Mumbai’s air pollution standards index (PSI) shows that pollution levels rise after the monsoon and peak in December.
Data shows that the city’s air contains high levels of toxic pollutants such as ammonia, lead, nickel and nitrogen dioxide whose ill-effects can range from sinusitis to respiratory illnesses such as bronchitis and even cancer, while the noise pollution can lead to high blood pressure and even heart disorders.
The increasing number of vehicles on Mumbai’s streets - 451 new vehicles get registered in the city every day - explains the rise in air pollution levels, said experts.
“Several toxic gases such as nitrogen dioxide are emitted during traffic congestions because vehicles don’t move and burn more fuel for less distances,” said Dr Rakesh Kumar, chief scientist and head, National Environmental Engineering Research Institute, Mumbai. “Also, owing to the massive construction work, including infrastructural projects and buildings, the levels of substances emitted in the air are higher.”
Activist Sumaira Abdulali, who has been fighting to reduce noise pollution, also blamed the increasing number of cars. “People are constantly trying to outdo each other on the roads. They insulate the inside of the car by switching on air-conditioners and don’t realise the din they are making by honking constantly,” she said.
However, there is a glimmer of hope. Data reveals that the BMC has managed to increase the city’s open spaces. It claims to have, through land acquired from private owners under reservation, increased the ‘gardens’ area from 53 hectares in March 2009 to 74 hectares by March 2012, a jump of 20 hectares. There are also more recreational grounds and playgrounds in the city now.
Additional municipal commissioner Mohan Adtani said: “Mumbai does have its share of pollution problems, which the report points to. We will study the report in depth and then decide on the plan of action.”