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‘We are promoting public transport to reduce air pollution in Mumbai’: MPCB chief

MPCB chairman Sudhir Shrivastava says their main strategy is to address vehicular pollution and coordinate with different agencies to promote public transport and carpooling.

mumbai Updated: Jun 05, 2019 13:57 IST
Badri Chatterjee
Badri Chatterjee
Hindustan Times, Mumbai
Maharashtra Pollution Control Board,MPCB,MPCB chairman
Maharashtra Pollution Control Board chairman Sudhir Shrivastava. (HTPhoto )

Hindustan Times spoke to Sudhir Shrivastava, chairman, Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) on the state’s plan to curb air pollution in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR). MPCB has already submitted action plans for 17 cities to the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) to improve air quality.

What according to you are the main sources of air pollution in Mumbai?

We had commissioned a report with the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) that identified vehicular pollution as the main source followed by construction and demolition waste (re-suspended dust). The third largest source is biofuel emissions and open burning. Our data on the industries and power sector highlights minimal contribution from this sector for MMR. Particulate matter (PM) is the main pollutant, which is a cause of concern for Mumbai, while all other pollutants have steadily reduced over the years.

What is the main focus under the city’s clean air pollution action plan?

Our main strategy is to address vehicular pollution and coordinate with different agencies to promote public transport and carpooling. We also aim to reduce pollution by requesting people to opt for staggered or flexible work hours, especially in areas with more traffic congestion like Bandra Kurla Complex, Lower Parel and Andheri. We are collating information on the fast implementation of electric vehicles. We are enforcing stricter emission norms for vehicles to adopt Bharat Stage VI emission norms by 2020 to enhance PM filter system in reducing emissions. This work has already begun under the air pollution action plan for Mumbai city with a vision to reduce air pollution sources by 25% through mitigation measures by 2022.

Windblown dust is a major source of PM10 in Mumbai. How do you plan to reduce it?

We have begun working with concerned agencies to recycle construction and demolition (C&D) waste and reduce the quantum of waste generated in the city. We are also trying chemical fogging to reduce the resuspension of dust to arrest the dispersion of suspended particles in the air during the transportation of C&D waste. Chemical fogging is already being implemented in the coal mines of Maharashtra. We will take up stretches in the city to see how this strategy can be best implemented.

Does Mumbai’s air pollution action plan identify mitigation measures for other sources?

One of the key elements of reducing biofuel emissions mostly from slum areas in Mumbai is the distribution of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) connections to below poverty line (BPL) families as per the Centre’s policy. Burning municipal waste is being addressed through regular meetings with civic bodies and citizens. Additionally, bakeries and eateries across Mumbai are being prompted to use clean fuels, and dust suppression mechanism is already underway to curb particulate pollution during paving of roads.

Diesel vehicles transporting municipal solid waste in the city emit a cocktail of toxic pollutants. Has the municipal corporation been issued directions to control emissions?

Emission from waste transportation, in Mumbai and other major cities in Maharashtra, is an issue which has been flagged before the board. We want to understand and study this carefully. We will be checking the availability of vehicles running on cleaner fuels and logistics of operating such vehicles since they carry high load capacity.

First Published: Jun 05, 2019 13:57 IST