Taloja residents demand pollution-free city
Around 200 residents from Kharghar, Taloja, Kalamboli and nearby areas staged a protest at Raigad Bhavan against Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) on Thursday. The protesters demanded that MPCB look into their demands and answer them back in writing before March 5. They added that it the MPCB does not give them an assurance in the given time, they will launch a hunger strike from March 7.
Some of the demands presented by the residents are monitoring of air quality, curbing air and water pollution and putting a stop to release of chemicals. The protest under the banner Swachh Swas Andolan was organised by members of Kharghar Taloja Residents Welfare Association (KTC-WA).
The residents alleged they have been breathing toxic air for more than three years now. The residents have time and again complained about toxic chemicals released by the industries, and the stench caused by it, at Taloja.
The protesters, armed with banners and placards, demanded quick action from officials. They posed several questions to MPCB officials, including why the units that are emitting pollutants have not been shut yet, why the authority has not taken any action against erring units.
Mangesh Ranawade, president KTC-WA, said, “We have been asking MPCB and other officials to address the problem for a long time. We even handed them reports on air quality which showed how polluted the air is; but to no avail. Three brick kilns are still operational and chemical industries have worsened our lives.”
“We cannot rely on their false promises anymore and decided to something to grab their attention. Hence, we led the protest demanding that action be taken against those industrial units before March 5 and that MPCB give us everything in writing. We have also said that if we don’t get anything till March 5, we will sit on a hunger strike from March 7,” said Ranawade.
MPCB officials have assured the protesters of providing them with details about their actions. Sachin Adkar, sub-regional officer, MPCB, said, “We have promised action to people. Pointers will be given to them on March 5 and further plan of action would be decided and conveyed. A committee might be formed comprising of experts and locals.”
Residents from the area had recently done an independent air quality check wherein it was found that the air quality index (AQI) for particulate matter (PM) 2.5 is at 140 against the normal range around 60, while AQI for PM 10 was 270 against the normal range around 100.