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Time to curb industrial, transport and residential emissions in Mumbai: experts

A study by SAFAR revealed that industrial, transport and residential sectors collectively accounted for over 80% of the emissions.

mumbai Updated: Feb 12, 2018 01:03 IST
Badri Chatterjee
Badri Chatterjee
Hindustan Times
Experts said that they were looking at popularising clean fuel for vehicles by phasing out older vehicles and levying stricter emission norms for vehicles.(Representational photo)

After System of Air Quality Weather Forecasting and Research’s (SAFAR) source apportionment analysis of air pollution in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region revealed that industrial, transport and residential sectors accounted for over 80% of the emissions, experts said regulating industrial and residential emissions was the need of the hour for the state government and municipal authorities in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR).

Sunita Narain, director general of Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), said, “While there has been some control on vehicular pollution in terms of better fuel, we have made sure that the gains from that automobile sector are compromised as industrial fuel has got even dirtier.”

“These studies are extremely important for major cities as they identify the challenges we need to address, step by step, for obtaining better air quality for a megacity like Mumbai. As of now, we need to address the collective emissions from the power sector and industries, followed by those from the residential sector,” she added.

For PM10, windblown suspended dust, majorly from construction activities, comprises 56.3% of emissions. This is followed by the collective emissions from the industrial and power sectors, at 15.9% and 6.7% respectively. While pollutants released from biofuel burning in the residential sector accounted for 14%, vehicular emissions from the transport sector saw 7% of total emissions.

“The problem with Delhi is its complicated geographical location, where we observe almost negligible wind speed during winters. It is not the same for Mumbai. However, there is an immediate need to quantify vehicular growth and understand the carrying capacity of the roads by making heavy load of vehicles, office and school hours more flexible. To reduce emissions, the idea should be to evenly distribute or compartmentalize,” said Dipankar Saha, former additional director, Central Pollution Control Board.

Narain said that most of Maharashtra, including around Mumbai, uses furnace oil and pet coke as the basic source of fuel in industries. “Last year based on our petition, the Supreme Court had banned the use of furnace oil and pet coke for four states of north India but I believe that the ban now needs to be extended across the country, and the state governments need to ask for it.”

She added that the next challenge for the city was controlling burning biomass from the residential sector. “These emissions mostly come from residents of slum areas, as they cannot afford other forms of fuel. These emissions have a serious impact on the health of women.

The central government’s Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY) - which was launched in 2016 to provide subsidised liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) connections to families and free connections to women below the poverty line - should reach deeper into the slum pockets,” said Narain. “Unless the poor get access to the cleanest and cheapest fuel for cooking, urban India will never be able to breathe easily.”

The third major pollutant identified by SAFAR was oxides of nitrogen (NOx), the maximum emissions of which came from the transport sector at 49%. While windblown dust did not account as a source for this pollutant, industries (coal, power and thermal) were responsible for 31.93% and the residential sector 19.09%.

Gufran Beig, project director, SAFAR, said “The data across the three pollutants varies significantly, owing to the sheer mass of each pollutant particle. However, the common aspect for all three pollutants were emissions from the industrial and residential sector.”

“There is a vast difference in Mumbai’s pollution sources and that of Delhi’s. The major sources for the latter are the transport sector and windblown dust, which account for almost 50% of PM2.5 pollution,” said Beig.

Narain said that they were looking at popularising clean fuel for vehicles by phasing out older vehicles and levying stricter emission norms for vehicles, with the central government regulating emission standards from Bharat Stage (BS) IV to BS VI before 2020

“In the Supreme Court, we got the government to agree to set standards for NOX and sulphur oxides (SOX) for industries nationwide,” she said. “This will be a game changer as industries will have to move to clean gas or very expensive emission control devices. However, on-ground implementation needs to be checked.”

The Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) said that the data indicated pollution sources from 2016, and there have been improvements in pollution control in recent time.

“Over the past two years, a lot of efforts have been made, to monitor pollution levels and implement policies on ground. This includes shutting down over 500 industries which violated the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981. We have also setup 11 new air-monitoring stations across the city, where data collation has already begun, which will help us identify micro pollution sources and help mitigate them,” said a senior MPCB official.

First Published: Feb 12, 2018 00:58 IST