Jaya Pal, a homemaker from Sahar, has lost the count of the number of times she cleans her house every day. For, such thick is the layer of concrete dust settling on the floor that the 35-year-old has to use a new cloth for cleaning each time.
Pal is not the only one. Hundreds of families from Sahar village are forced to deal with the harmful dust emanating from the cement mixers in their houses, thanks to the ongoing repair work at the Mumbai airport’s main runway since last November.
Grinding of several tonnes of construction material is being carried out daily for the repair work. Last week, the residents reported the matter to the airport operator, state environment ministry and state health department.
“There have been many cases of breathing trouble amongst children and senior citizens in the area,” said Muktar Shaikh, a local resident. As the state is yet to act on their complaint, residents are planning to stage a protest on January 29. “If the machines are not shifted to another area immediately, the situation could get out of hand,” said Nicholas Almeida, another local resident.
When contacted, BB Wade, regional director with the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB), said they would inspect the site on January 10. The Mumbai International Airport Limited (MIAL) spokesperson claimed that the hot mix plant of Italian-make holds stringent standards with respect to the non-pollution requirements while carrying out mixing work. The plant has an inbuilt devise to neutralise toxic gas if released during the process.
“We have obtained a no-objection certificate from the MPCB,” said the spokesperson. The spokesperson added that a huge canopy has been built over the plant to prevent release of dust and regular medical camps are being held for residents.
“The hot mix plant is absolutely critical to the work. It is imperative for MIAL to complete the runway work in the stipulated time period,” said the spokesperson.