Is it worth spending 15.49 lakh litre water daily to clean the city? | Mumbai news - Hindustan Times
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Is it worth spending 15.49 lakh litre water daily to clean the city?

ByBhagwan Kesbhat
Feb 21, 2024 07:10 AM IST

In countries like India, where water scarcity is a significant concern, the trade-off between potential air quality benefits and water conservation needs to be carefully evaluated. Mumbai is supplied water from reservoirs in Nashik district, which are on the verge of getting empty before the start of summer

The idea of washing roads as part of deep cleaning Mumbai to reduce air pollution is based on the premise that keeping road surfaces clean can minimise accumulation of dust and particulate matter, which, in turn, could contribute to improved air quality. However, whether this practice is worth the water usage depends on various factors and considerations.

Maharashtra CM Eknath Shinde visited juju during BMCs Deep cleaning drive at Juhu in Mumbai on Dec 09, 2023. (HT PHOTO)
Maharashtra CM Eknath Shinde visited juju during BMCs Deep cleaning drive at Juhu in Mumbai on Dec 09, 2023. (HT PHOTO)

In countries like India, where water scarcity is a significant concern, the trade-off between potential air quality benefits and water conservation needs to be carefully evaluated. Mumbai is supplied water from reservoirs in Nashik district, which are on the verge of getting empty before the start of summer.

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In cities like Mumbai which are facing water scarcity, using 15.49 lakh litre each day for washing roads may not be sustainable. Prioritising the commodity for essential needs like drinking, agriculture and sanitation should take precedence over non-essential activities like road washing.

On the other hand, the effectiveness of road washing in reducing air pollution depends on the local sources of pollution. If road dust is a major contributor to particulate matter in the air, regular cleaning might have a positive impact. However, if other sources like industrial emissions or vehicle exhaust are dominant, road washing alone may not be sufficient.

The first draft of Mumbai Clean Air Action highlights 33% emission contribution comes from industrial pollution. When we need to follow strict standards, it is essential to explore alternative methods and technologies that can achieve air quality improvements without significant water consumption. Combining road washing with broader, integrated air quality management strategies can provide a more comprehensive approach. This may involve stricter emission standards for vehicles, promoting public transportation and implementing green initiatives.

Increasing public awareness about the link between road cleanliness and air quality can encourage responsible water use and promote community involvement in pollution control measures.

Is water getting wasted in the process? What is the way forward?

Vacuum trucks are equipped with powerful suction mechanisms that efficiently remove dust, debris and litter from road surfaces. This helps prevent the accumulation of particulate matter, contributing to improved air quality. Unlike traditional methods that involve the use of water for road washing, vacuum trucks do not involve wet processes. Some models incorporate water misting systems to suppress dust while minimising water consumption, making them a more sustainable option in regions facing water scarcity.

Vacuum trucks can be versatile and adaptable to different road surfaces, including urban streets, highways and construction sites. They can effectively clean various types of debris, from small particles to larger litter. Vacuum trucks can operate with minimal disruption to traffic flow, as they can clean roads while moving at a moderate speed. This minimizes the impact on daily activities and reduces the need for road closures during cleaning operations.

These trucks often include systems for collecting and containing the removed debris, making it easier to manage waste and dispose of it properly. This contributes to overall cleanliness and hygiene in urban areas.

Reducing air pollution in cities like Mumbai involves implementing a combination of policies, regulations and public awareness campaigns. Here are steps that can be taken to address air pollution:

Improve transportation

Invest in and expand public transportation infrastructure to reduce the reliance on individual vehicles. Encourage electric or hybrid buses to minimize emissions. Develop and enhance infrastructure for cycling and walking to reduce the number of short trips taken by motorized vehicles. Provide incentives for adoption of electric vehicles, such as tax benefits and charging infrastructure development. Develop policies to phase out older, more polluting vehicles.

Implement and enforce emission standards

Enforce strict emission standards for vehicles, industries and power plants. Mandate regular inspections to ensure compliance. Promote cleaner production technologies and processes.

Waste management

Improve waste management practices to reduce open burning and landfill emissions. Encourage recycling and composting to minimise generation of waste. We should adopt to zero landfill policy where no waste goes to the landfill, and gets recycled or reused before being disposed of to scrap centres or for manure production.

Air quality monitoring

Establish and maintain robust air quality monitoring network to track pollution levels where the data has uniformity with regards to the monitoring agency. Use real-time data to implement timely interventions and inform the public about air quality so that they can adhere to appropriate health advisories.

Regulate construction activities

Implement and enforce regulations for construction activities to minimise dust pollution. Encourage builders to follow the construction and demolition guidelines given by BMC.

Involve citizens

Citizens need to be involved in the decision making at ward level. They play a crucial role in identifying hotspots of air pollution in their premises and will also take responsibility.

Airshed approach

It is an effective and integrated strategy for reducing air pollution, considering the interconnectedness of pollution sources and meteorological conditions. This approach emphasizes collaboration, data-driven decision-making and engagement of various stakeholders to achieve sustainable improvements in air quality.

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