BMC identifies reasons for air pollution, sets SOPs to fix it
Mumbai: Poor air quality has been the bane of Mumbaikars lately
Mumbai: Poor air quality has been the bane of Mumbaikars lately. To mitigate the crisis, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) constituted a seven-member committee on March 11. The committee, headed by Dr Sanjeev Kumar, additional municipal commissioner, has submitted a 41-page report titled ‘Mumbai’s Air Pollution Mitigation Plan’ to civic chief Iqbal Singh Chahal for an approval on the standard operating procedures (SOPs) to combat air pollution. The SOPs will come into effect from April 1.
The committee’s objective was to identify the reasons for the high degree of pollution enveloping the city and suggest measures to curb it. (See box.) In the course of preparing the report, it was learnt that ongoing infrastructure projects such as metro, roads, storm water drains, coastal roads, STPs, etc are polluting the air. The committee has proposed to devise a monitoring mechanism for various ongoing projects.
A three-level taskforce will be formed at every ward with six engineers each, who will be authorised to take timely action on builders by issuing warning and stop work notices on construction activities in case of non-compliance. It will also monitor construction sites, hotels and residential areas. Each team will report to the respective ward officer.
Ward level first task force will comprise assistant engineers from building and factories, and building proposals departments, and a sub engineer from removal of encroachments department. The second task force will include an assistant engineer from the solid waste management department, a sub-engineer from maintenance and a horticulture assistant from the ward. The third task force will have an assistant engineer and sub engineer (division maintenance and engineering) and medical officer of health.
“Their task is to pull up people for non-compliance. After a letter of warning is issued, they will follow it up with repeated inspections. If further lapses are reported the second time, the guilty will be penalised, with the approval of the concerned executive engineer. A weekly report will be submitted to the respective assistant commissioner,” stated the report. HT has a copy of the report.
The teams will be empowered to inspect projects by MHADA, MIDC MMRDA, MPT, MSRDC, SRA, AAI, MMB, PWD, Railways, Maharashtra Forest Department and take necessary action, if lapses are detected. In order to keep a keen eye, projects will be divided into small (area less than 4000 square meters) and large (over 4000 square meters) categories.
Empirical evidence has shown demolition of existing buildings to make way for new construction, excavation, storage of construction and demolition material, construction of super structure, vehicles transporting construction materials and debris add to air pollution. Mild brushing and sprinkling water daily is a solution, especially on unpaved surfaces with loose soil.
The points of entry and exit gates of housing societies that lead up to public roads will be swept and vacuum cleaned wherever necessary. Green walls, screens, other vegetation barriers and innovative dust minimizing technologies will also be deployed.
Use of personal protective equipment (PPE), such as masks and goggles are part of the mandate. All projects with environmental clearance will also have to carry out third party ambient air monitoring fortnightly. RMC plants will require Mumbai Pollution Control Board’s approval.
There will be a ban on use of new as well as discarded wood or wood products by construction workers, security guards etc, as a cooking fuel or bonfires. The discarded wood or products from construction and demolition sites will be disposed of in a scientific manner to curb open burning. The concerned contractor will have to submit a self-certification, complying by the guidelines every week, failing which a warning letter will be issued. Further lapses will invite penal action.