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Vehicular emissions biggest contributor to poor air quality in Mumbai, doubled since 2016: SAFAR analysis

Vehicular emissions in the city are responsible for 30.5 per cent emission load of particulate matter (PM) in 2019-20, an increase from 16 per cent in 2016-17, as per the 2019-20 analysis for PM2.5 pollutant by SAFAR, under Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM), Pune.

Written by Sanjana Bhalerao | Mumbai |
June 29, 2021 11:18:33 pm
Pollution, carbon footprint, India, Covid-19Maharashtra's Economic Survey Report 2019-20 shows that the city has 3.86 crore vehicles. In the following year, number of vehicles rose by 2.7 per cent to 3.96 crore vehicles. (File Photo)

Vehicular emissions have doubled since 2016, and have become the biggest contributor to the Mumbai’s poor air quality, shows a source estimation analysis by System of Air Quality Weather Forecasting And Research (SAFAR), an initiative by Ministry of Earth Sciences.

Vehicular emissions in the city are responsible for 30.5 per cent emission load of particulate matter (PM) in 2019-20, an increase from 16 per cent in 2016-17, as per the 2019-20 analysis for PM2.5 pollutant by SAFAR, under Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM), Pune.

Dr Gufran Beig, senior scientist and founder project director, SAFAR, said, “Transport sector has shown a drastic increase over five years as a sector contributing to PM2.5 pollution in Mumbai. This is a combination of both an increase in number of vehicles and more stagnation at traffic junctions leading to congestion.”

Maharashtra’s Economic Survey Report 2019-20 shows that the city has 3.86 crore vehicles. In the following year, number of vehicles rose by 2.7 per cent to 3.96 crore vehicles.

Beig added, “While in Delhi, there is more adoption of compressed natural gas (CNG) among public transport vehicles and even private, it has been less across Mumbai. Majority of vehicles continue to be petrol and diesel.”

Particle pollution contains microscopic solids or liquid droplets that are so small that they can get deep inside a person’s lungs and cause serious health issues, including increased respiratory symptoms such as irritation of airways, coughing, difficulty in breathing and development of chronic bronchitis, among others.

The report has found the second biggest contributor to PM in the city is emissions from industries and power sector at 18 per cent, down from 36 per cent in 2016-17.

Emissions from other sources like municipal solid waste plants, open burning of garbage, crematoria, aviation sector and brick kilns make up for 21 per cent. At present, the Deonar dumping ground in the eastern suburbs is the only open landfill site where 1,300 metric tonne of mixed garbage is dumped unscientifically. According to officials, three waste-to-energy plants are coming up at the site.

The study further shows that residential burning, including cooking, burning of wood and wind-blown dust, contributes to 15 per cent of overall PM2.5.

Beig said the city was lucky to be surrounded by the sea from three sides, which helps in swift dispersion of pollutants. “However, now alarm bells are ringing. We are approaching a tipping point where these natural factors will no longer make any difference. Thus, addressing sector-wise emission is key,” he said.

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