A day before the Bombay High Court’s hearing on Mumbai’s air pollution issue, the Maharashtra government and the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) announced a slew of measures, including exploring the possibility of cloud seeding to generate artificial rain to wash away pollutants, deploying 1,000 tankers to spray water on Mumbai’s roads and setting up a dedicated web application for citizens to complain about pollution in the city.
After holding a review meeting with officials in view of air pollution in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR), Chief Minister Eknath Shinde said, “Instructions have been given to increase forest cover in urban areas. I have directed the BMC to take 1,000 water tankers on rent and wash the roads daily using recycled or borewell water. Instructions have been given to use all the options and machineries to curb air pollution. The city received rain in the past few days but if needed, officials have been told to examine if cloud seeding option can be used to generate artificial rain.”
The CM also directed the authorities to deploy 1,000 tankers to spray water to curb the dust on Mumbai’s roads. The CM also asked the authorities to concentrate on increasing the tree cover in the city.
Brihanmumbai Municipal Commissioner and state appointed administrator, Iqbal Singh Chahal, who was part of the meeting, said that the BMC would now set up a dedicated web application through which citizens could complain about pollution and also track the status of their complaints.
“By next month, we will launch an application through which citizens will be able to check as to how many construction sites have been issued stop work notices as well as the many other actions taken by the BMC against those who have been found violating the pollution mitigation guidelines. They will also be able to monitor the AQI levels through this app,” Chahal said.
The meeting was was also attended by Chahal along with municipal commissioners of Mumbai Metropolitan Region, police officials and officials from the planning authorities, public works department and MMRDA.
Chahal said that the air pollution guidelines clearly state that if construction debris or material are transported without covering properly, the vechicle will be seized. “Penalties haven’t been imposed as it enables the violators to get away easily. We will simply impound the vehicles and have informed the transport commissioner about the same,” he said.
“At present, we are washing at least 600 kilometres of roads daily. The CM has instructed us to wash up to 1,000 km of roads and we are planning to get additional water tankers to ensure sprinkling activities are carried out in a larger scale,” Chahal said.
The municipal commissioner announced that the civic body is planning to install high-pressure water jets at the several entry and exit points of Mumbai city, in a bid to carry out cleaning of the tyres of vehicles. “Around 20,000 heavy vehicles enter the city through the check nakas. We are working on plans to install high pressure jets at the checkpoints from where the heavy as well as other vehicles enter the city. These jets will clean the tyres that carry a lot of dust. This move will ensure that vehicles entering the city don’t contribute to the dust levels,” Chahal told reporters.
“We have deployed at least six teams in each of the dumping grounds in Mumbai to avert fire incidents at the landfills,” he said.
Chahal also said that notices have been issued to construction sites to install sprinklers within 15 days and smog guns in 30 days. “By November and December, we will be launching an application through which the citizens will be able to check as to how many construction sites have been issued ‘stop work’ notices as well as other actions taken by the BMC against those who have been found violating the pollution mitigation guidelines. They will also be able to monitor the AQI levels through this app.”
The Indian Express, from October 20, published its series, ‘Death by Breath’ which reported on various issues pertaining to the rise in air pollution in Mumbai.
A Bombay High Court bench led by Chief Justice Devendra Kumar Upadhyaya Tuesday took suo motu cognisance of news reports, including the The Indian Express series on air pollution in and around Mumbai city.
The court said it would initiate a suo motu PIL and asked the BMC, Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) and the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) to respond by November 10, listing the steps taken by them to mitigate the issue under existing laws.