BMC gets action plan to improve air quality

Published on Dec 08, 2022 01:00 AM IST

MUMBAI: In a fourth consecutive day, on Wednesday, the city recorded an average air quality index (AQI) of 271 -- categorised as “poor”

Mumbai, India - December 07, 2022: Dadar Chowpatty engulfed in smog amid hazy weather, at Dadar, in Mumbai, India, on Wednesday, December 07, 2022. (Photo by Vijay Bate/HT Photo) (HT PHOTO)
Mumbai, India - December 07, 2022: Dadar Chowpatty engulfed in smog amid hazy weather, at Dadar, in Mumbai, India, on Wednesday, December 07, 2022. (Photo by Vijay Bate/HT Photo) (HT PHOTO)
ByLinah Baliga

MUMBAI: In a fourth consecutive day, on Wednesday, the city recorded an average air quality index (AQI) of 271 -- categorised as “poor”. An AQI between 200 and 300 is rated in this category, while an AQI of over 300 is placed in the “very poor” category.

Now, all 24 administrative wards have been directed to take immediate remedial measures to deal with rise in AQI levels by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC)-appointed Airavat Enviro Engineers and Consultants.

The expert body has asked BMC to clean road dust and sprinkle water. Additionally, air pollution hotspots and micro hotspots, such as BKC junction or a potholed road should be identified. “We have suggested a ban on open garbage burning but security guards in housing societies are known to burn wood during winter,” said the head of Airawat Enviro Engineers and Consultants, who did not wish to be named.

“Trucks that come and go at construction sites lead to dust being emitted. Industrial areas of Chembur and Mahul add to air pollution, which will be monitored. These small steps are a part of our action plan,” he said. “Bakeries and hotels need coal and wood to enhance the taste of food served. We have asked the fire and health departments of BMC to ensure that these commercial hubs switch to cleaner fuels like PNG or electric ovens or install an air pollution system. Garbage should also not be dumped in the open as people then set fire to the heap.”

The consultants held a special meeting earlier this month with the civic body and pointed to four wards that showed rise in AQI levels, much above 200. They are: A Ward in Colaba-Churchgate, M East Ward in Mankhurd, P North Ward in Malad and R (Central) Ward in Borivali.

Explaining the reason behind the present crisis, the head of Airawat Enviro Engineers and Consultants, said, “AQI level’s increase can be due to local factors such as burning green waste or construction sites present near monitoring stations.” He was however quick to state that the present rise in the index was primarily due to the weather phenomenon, although air pollution contributed to it.

A civic official from BMC’s environment department reasoned, given the absence of air movement and lack of turbulence in winters, the particulate matter (PM) gets stuck at a particular location.

“The PM gets added daily, which has impacted the air quality. North India has been facing this situation for a while, but now Mumbai has also come in the fray due to meteorological phenomenon, with air pollution contributing to it,” said he. He added that the present advisory was conveyed to the additional municipal commissioner, environment, at a meeting last week. However, when HT reached out to Kiran Dighavkar, assistant commissioner, P North ward (Malad) he said that he had yet to receive any communication on the matter.

Experts noted that the major factors contributing to the present crisis in the city are Metro work, road digging, building constructions, industrial activities and small activities like vehicular emissions, bakeries and crematoriums.

The 20 locations from where air quality is measured fall between Colaba and Mulund-Dahisar. Some belong to MPCB, comprising 11 monitoring stations, and SAFAR (a joint body of IITM-Pune and IMD), comprising nine stations. All 20 are connected to the CPCB website. These 20 locations provide real time data of air pollution in Mumbai.

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