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City gasps for breath through traffic snarls

With the increase in vehicular traffic and construction activity, air pollution in the city is on the rise.

mumbai Updated: Aug 29, 2011 01:16 IST
Bhavika Jain
Bhavika Jain
Hindustan Times

With the increase in vehicular traffic and construction activity, air pollution in the city is on the rise.

The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s Environment Status Report (ESR) for the year 2010-11 revealed that the emission load of Mumbai has increased from 588.57 tonnes per day last year to 597.12 tonnes tpd in 2010-11, which is leading to the rise in air pollution. Experts attribute this rise to an increase in the number of vehicles, which in turn leads to an increase in exhaust emissions, and to construction activities.

According to the ESR report, exhaust emissions from automobiles has increased to 391.26 tpd from 383.69 tpd last year. Exhaust emissions constitute 65% of the total emission load.

This is largely because Mumbai’s car population is growing at a rate of 5.6 % annually. The number of vehicles in the city was 19.09 lakh in January this year as against 18.06 lakh vehicles in January last year. The ensuing traffic congestion leads to vehicles emitting large volumes of exhaust gas as vehicles move at snail’s pace or remain halted for long periods of time.

“Traffic congestion is reducing fuel efficiency and is an leading to increase in emissions,” said Rakesh Kumar of the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute. He said that the low popularity of clean fuels such as CNG and LPG among private car owners is contributing to the problem.

Unchecked construction activity in the city has also added to the emission load of the city, says the report. “Rampant construction activities in the city is also responsible for the increase in particulate matter,” said Kumar.

In fact, the Suspended Particulate Matter (SPM) has crossed the Central Pollution Control Board’s (CPCB) standards of 140 ug/m3 at all the six air pollution monitoring sites in the city, which include Worli, Khar, Borivli, Andheri, Bhandup and Maravli. The average SPM count was 125 to 642 ug/m3. SPM is primary cause of respiratory diseases. The presence of heavy metals such as lead has also seen a rise, but is still within CPCB standards, said the report. The report also says that levels of Sulphur Dioxide (SO2) has reduced in all the six monitoring stations while, Nitrogen Dioxide(NO2) and Ammonia (NH3) are within approved standards in all five air monitoring stations expect Maravli.

First Published: Aug 29, 2011 01:14 IST