The Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) has sought steps to monitor four major air polluters in the city — dumping grounds, Ready Mix Concrete (RMC) plants, industries and vehicles. In January, the Air Quality Index (AQI) in the city had worsened to levels found in Delhi after the fire at the Deonar dumping ground.
MPCB officials said that these four polluters usually caused the maximum damage to air quality.
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According to the officials, regular pocket fires in the city’s three dumping grounds — Kanjurmarg, Deonar and Mulund — worsen air quality. During the Deonar fire, the AQI had reached alarming levels, nearly 341, which is at par with the AQI levels found in Delhi.
The Maharashtra Coastal Zone Management Authority has already directed the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to submit monthly reports of air quality levels in areas around the three dumping grounds. All the dumping grounds are located in the eastern suburbs.
“Officers of the BMC have responded to the notice sent to them after the fire at Deonar and agreed to comply with air quality norms. The matter is pending before the secretariat after which steps will be decided,” said a MPCB official.
The second major contributor to air pollution after dumping grounds are the RMC plants which are used to process cement for construction. A survey was carried out on as many as 100 RMCs in the city. These plants emanate dust due to the mixing of stone, sand and cement. “According to fixed norms, RMCs are required to have anti-pollutant mechanisms to suppress dust. After our survey, show-cause notices were sent to at least 64 RMCs which had no such mechanism in place. Out of these, 33 plants did not comply with the norms even after getting notices and ‘stop work’ notices were issued to them,” said Dilip Khedkar, regional officer of the MPCB. He added that if work was not stopped, despite the notices, authorities would be directed to discontinue water and electricity supply to the RMC plants concerned. Khedkar said that many RMCs, especially those operating near residential areas, flouted rules on the permissible limit of emission factors.
The MPCB had taken cognizance of a complaint in this regard from Thakur Village in Kandivali. Residents of Bhoomi Valley society along with other complexes in the area had complained against three stone-crusher plants, three asphalt plants and a RMC in their vicinity. A resident said, “These plants were adjacent to the residential complexes at a distance of less than 100 metres. The plants give rise to smoke as well as continuous noise. The soot in the air forced residents to keep their windows shut throughout the day. We do not know whether the plants have been shut or given notices, but there has been some relief from the noise.”
Khedkar said that action was taken against the plants which were flouting norms and follow-up measures would also be taken.