Brace for a long battle against air pollution: Chahal | Mumbai news - Hindustan Times
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Brace for a long battle against air pollution: Chahal

By, Mumbai
Nov 10, 2023 07:56 AM IST

Just like how the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) braces for monsoon with a preparedness plan in summer, the civic body will henceforth follow its air pollution mitigation measures every year

Just like how the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) braces for monsoon with a preparedness plan in summer, the civic body will henceforth follow its air pollution mitigation measures every year.

Mumbai, India - Nov. 9, 2023: Haze seen over city skyline at Cuffe Parade, in Mumbai, India, on Thursday, November 9, 2023. (Photo by Anshuman Poyrekar/ Hindustan Times) (Hindustan Times)
Mumbai, India - Nov. 9, 2023: Haze seen over city skyline at Cuffe Parade, in Mumbai, India, on Thursday, November 9, 2023. (Photo by Anshuman Poyrekar/ Hindustan Times) (Hindustan Times)

Calling air pollution an effect of climate change, BMC administrator Iqbal Singh Chahal on Thursday said the issue which was perceived as a “temporary phenomenon” last year would be witnessed during October-May every year “if we don’t take adequate precautions now”.

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“It will be a regular feature all over the country. The natural air will be affected due to climate change. This is part of our life’s existence for the next 20 years. Last year was the first time we faced this problem, and we thought it was a temporary thing and it would go away. But now pollution is witnessed across Maharashtra,” he said while addressing the media after hosting a Diwali lunch.

Chahal said Pune’s air quality index (AQI) was worse than that of Mumbai. “Nowhere is AQI less than 100. But this is a lifelong responsibility, and we are now very serious about it. This crisis may not go away in six months or one year. We will have to change our lifestyle and take precautions and all guidelines will be inevitably followed and made mandatory.”

Chief minister Eknath Shinde said there should be a “chalval”, a movement against air pollution on the lines of prime minister Narendra Modi’s Swachata Abhiyan, the civic chief highlighted. “The anti-pollution campaign should be like the cleanliness drive. The onus should also be on local citizens to take up the initiative in their society and surroundings.”

Talking about the importance of road cleaning, Chahal said Mumbai’s total length of roads and bylanes is 2,050 km and roughly 600 km of them will be washed daily.

“Roads will be cleaned once in three days. Swachata doots and sanitation volunteers with the help of 150 tankers will wash 600 km of roads every day. Our plan is to cover 1,000 km as per Shinde’s target. The dust suspended on roads will be dispersed,” he pointed out.

Based on CM Shinde’s instructions, 1,000 night service buses entering Mumbai and trucks will be washed.

“The entry points like Bhiwandi, Panvel and Mulund or Dahisar naka will have high pressure jets that will clean the vehicles without their coming to a halt. Work will start in three days. This will prevent outside dust from entering the city. This work will go on until the next monsoon,” Chahal said.

About pollution at Deonar dumping ground, he said that six marshals would be deployed, and round-the-clock surveillance would be maintained to prevent garbage burning.

Chahal categorically said that the civic body’s intention was not to hound only private developers. “Stop-work notices would be issued to all agencies violating air pollution guidelines. This was the reason why the bullet train project work at Bandra Kurla Complex was halted.”

He stressed that Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation had been told that Taloja should be strictly monitored so that no smoke from emissions was present and if needed some factories would be shut down.

Chahal said other cities in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region will have to follow BMC’s 27-point guidelines on air pollution mitigation as directed by the CM recently.

The timing for bursting firecrackers in Mumbai will be as per the Bombay high court order, which is from 7pm to 10pm, and it will be duly followed, he said.

BMC will also develop a mobile app for citizens. “In the first week of December we will give a clear picture on the action initiated, how many construction sites have been covered etc. After that we will develop the app,” Chahal added.

Mandate for builders

Sudhakar Shinde, additional municipal commissioner, said commencement certificate for constructions, issued by the building proposal department of BMC, would from now on make it mandatory for developers to comply with the guidelines on air pollution mitigation issued by the civic body this month. The CM had suggested BMC take a cue from Delhi and explore cloud seeding and artificial rain, he said.

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