Smog engulfs Mumbai, pollution rises

  • Badri Chatterjee, Hindustan Times, Mumbai
  • Updated: Jan 30, 2016 19:24 IST
City buildings are seen in heavy smog at Lower Parel in Mumbai. (Vijayanand Gupta /HT Photo)

The city woke up to a smoggy morning on Thursday, with the weather conditions and a fire at the Deonar dumping ground leading to rise in the pollution levels.

Officials from the System of Air Quality Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR) said most locations in Mumbai saw a rise in the air quality index (AQI) — a pollution measuring indicator — with readings in ‘poor’ and ‘very poor’ categories. Overall, Mumbai recorded ‘poor’ AQI levels of 206.

“We observed a 40% rise in pollution levels in Mumbai from Monday. The current pollution levels were triggered by a drop in temperatures and rise in moisture levels and the situation is expected to be the same for another two days,” said Gufran Beig, project director, SAFAR. Mumbai’s air quality is expected to be ‘poor’, with a predicted AQI of 216.

Weathermen confirmed that there was thick smog across the city. “Visibility dropped across the city on Thursday morning owing to changes in wind patterns, which brought in warm and moist air from the Arabian Sea. The heightened level of moisture with smaller particles in the atmosphere closer to the surface of the earth created a thick dust-laden layer across Mumbai’s horizon,” said Ajay Kumar, scientific officer, India Meteorological Department (IMD). “The effect should subside over the weekend.”

Meanwhile, residents living in areas such as Govandi, Deonar, Chembur, Ghatkopar, Wadala, Antop Hill and Sion complained of a foul smell and thick smog after a major fire broke out at the Deonar dumping ground. Residents said the smoke caused irritation to the throat and eyes and led to recurring cough. “The fire started on Wednesday night and by Thursday morning it intensified, leaving behind thick toxic smoke in the air. We were forced to keep our doors and windows shut and visibility levels decreased considerably,” said Adithi Muralidhar, resident of Govandi (East).

Chembur resident Dr Sandeep Rane, a cardiologist and founder of non-profit Smoke Affect Residents’ Forum (SARF), said, “Thursday’s smog emanating from the dumping ground stretched from Sion to Navi Mumbai. People can die due to respiratory ailments if such fires continue and it is appalling that the civic body has not taken action even after similar incidents last year.”

While residents living around Deonar complained of breathing problem, low visibility and acrid smell, those living around the Mulund garbage dump also complained of frequent fires over the last two weeks. “We are facing respiratory problems on a daily basis. Residents are getting together along with doctors to carry out agitations against the civic body since our health is being compromised,” said Subramaniam Iyer, a resident of Hari Om Nagar, Mulund.

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