Mumbai looks at a bleak winter with poor air quality | Mumbai news - Hindustan Times
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Mumbai looks at a bleak winter with poor air quality

Dec 23, 2023 07:50 AM IST

The overall AQI of the city on Friday rose to 189 from Tuesday’s 139. In some areas the AQI crossed 200. Those in the red were: Govandi in Shivaji Nagar, which registered an all-time high at 300. Deonar came a close second at 298, followed by Sewri at 262, Colaba at 240, Malad West at 236 and BKC at 201

MUMBAI: The city’s Air Quality Index (AQI) has been on a steady rise over the last four days, thanks to a mix of changing weather conditions and laxity in compliance of air pollution guidelines by people manning construction sites, observed experts.

Mumbai, India - Dec. 22, 2023:Haze on city skyline at Marine Drives, in Mumbai, India, on Friday, December 22, 2023. (Photo by Anshuman Poyrekar/ Hindustan Times) (Hindustan Times)
Mumbai, India - Dec. 22, 2023:Haze on city skyline at Marine Drives, in Mumbai, India, on Friday, December 22, 2023. (Photo by Anshuman Poyrekar/ Hindustan Times) (Hindustan Times)

The overall AQI of the city on Friday rose to 189 from Tuesday’s 139. In some areas the AQI crossed 200. Those in the red were: Govandi in Shivaji Nagar, which registered an all-time high at 300. Deonar came a close second at 298, followed by Sewri at 262, Colaba at 240, Malad West at 236 and BKC at 201.

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Minesh Pimpale, deputy municipal commissioner, environment, said: “When the atmospheric boundary layer or lid comes down, the pollutants trapped within city limits face an upward dispersion. But this happens only with presence of sun rays which were absent on Friday.”

Pimpale said that Friday was also the last date for submission of expression of interest for cloud seeding which the civic body is planning to explore to combat the rising AQI levels, especially with the onset of winter.

“We will prepare for cloud seeding with a request for proposal,” he added.

BMC’s guidelines for construction sites mandated a month ago had helped curb air pollution in the last week of November -- evidenced by a steady downward slide in Mumbai’s AQI levels, noted Gufran Beig, founder project director, SAFAR. But he warned, “With winter setting in, the air quality is likely to drop and even worsen.”

Way ahead of the onset of winter, in October, Beig had noted a worsening in air quality. “Despite having natural advantages, the air quality was affected because of construction and redevelopment activities. BMC’s guidelines did help curb and improve the air quality briefly, but the implementation has not been stringent on the ground right through. This will lead to poorer air quality in winter,” he had said at the time.

Beig’s observation from the recent past is today being felt in areas like Bandra, Khar and Santacruz West, where residents have complained that despite red-flagging the laxity in policing construction sites, on BMC’s app, guidelines continue to be flouted.

Surindra Khubchandani, a resident of 17th Road, Santacruz West, pointed to various redevelopment works, including that of a stormwater drain that is underway on the 16th, 17th and 18th roads, which are adding to the pollution.

“The building construction sites are not covered with green cloth and debris along with stone and dust is lying unattended. We have complained on BMC’s app, but no attention has been paid. We cannot open our windows, nor walk on the roads. There are no sprinklers and BMC has stopped monitoring compliances at construction sites,” he said.

Khubchandani had purchased his flat where he now resides on 17th Road three years ago. He moved from Jai Bharat Society, Khar West, which was beset with perennial waterlogging issues.

“Now, we cannot bear this dust pollution as we are senior citizens. We have to sell our flat and move again to a quieter place. Our view of the sea too has gone because of the new high-rises coming up in the vicinity,” he said.

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