After a spate of complaints of gas leaks across the city whose origins remain a mystery, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has decided to deploy air analyser balloons to find out the source of these leaks. The civic body has proposed to purchase three devices, one each for the island city, western and eastern suburbs, to analyse the air when there are complaints of foul smell or gas leak.
In the last one year, there have been three incidents where residents had complained of foul smell or gas leak in eastern and western suburbs. However, the civic body and other agencies like Mahanagar Gas Limited, Bharat Petroleum Limited, Hindustan Petroleum Limited, Rashtriya Chemical Fertilizer have not been able to identify the origins of these leaks.
Officials from the Mumbai Fire Brigade said that the idea of purchasing air analyser balloons was suggested early this year by an expert committee which comprised members from Indian Institute of Technology-Bombay (IIT-B), Institute of Chemical Technology (ICT), National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and representatives of petrochemical companies.
A senior official from the fire brigade said, “Air analyser balloons are portable units where a balloon can be sent up in areas that need to be tested. The balloon traps air from the atmosphere in the area. The balloon can then be retrieved and the trapped air can be analysed.” He added, “These devices will be stationed at island city, western and eastern suburbs. And since the fire brigade is first responder in such cases they will be mobilised immediately after complaints.”
Civic officials said this is a proven technology worldwide and it will be helpful in collecting air sample instantly as in these gas leak incidents, a major issue was the smell went off in 15 minutes to half an hour. If air quality monitoring vehicles are used it takes time in mobilizing. The air analyser balloons will be used in checking the presence of gases like sulphur dioxide, ammonia, carbon monoxide, methane in air.
After the expert committee’s advice budgetary provision was made in the 2020-21 budget to buy these air analyser balloons. These devices will cost around Rs 45 lakh each. However, following the outbreak of Covid-19 which led to loss of revenue, the department had curtailed the provision. Now, the fresh provision will be done in next financial year, an official says.
On October 17, residents from Powai, Ghatkopar, Bhandup had complained of gas smell. Fire Brigade along with Mahanagar Gas Limited had sent a team to check the suspected gas leakage. However, like the past incidents this time also it could not be found the type of gas and source of the leakage. Earlier on June 6, similar complaints were received from Chembur, Ghatkopar, Kanjurmarg, Powai by the BMC’s disaster management cell. Last year in September the disaster management cell received over 45 complaints of foul smell or suspected gas leak from areas like Andheri, Powai, Ghatkopar, Kanjurmarg, Chembur, Bhandup, Govandi.
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