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‘New air pollution norms tough to meet’

To meet global standards,the Union Environment Ministry,in a move that went largely unnoticed,had reduced permissible air pollution limits last month though the earlier norms were not being met.

Written by Nitya Kaushik | Mumbai |
December 19, 2009 4:50:30 am

To meet global standards,the Union Environment Ministry,in a move that went largely unnoticed,had reduced permissible air pollution limits last month though the earlier norms were not being met.

Now state officials say they are facing a “difficult task” reducing pollution levels.

Dr Rajneesh Dube,joint secretary,Ministry of Environment and Forest said,“…we reduced ambient air quality standards to a level agreeable to public health.” The MoEF had on November 16,reduced norms for SO2,NO2 and RSPM to 50 µg/m3,40 µg/m3 and 60 µg/m3 respectively. Industrial,residential and rural areas have now been clubbed into a single zone. Dube explained,“if an industrial zone continues to spew toxic air,nearby residential zones are bound to be affected. Now we have only two zones: residential/rural/industrial zones in one bracket and sensitive zones within 100 metres of schools,hospital,etc.”

Dube said the new norms are based on a four-year study by IIT Kanpur commissioned by the Central Pollution Control Board in 2004. The earlier norms for industrial zones were less: 80 µg/m3 for SO2 and NO2 and 120 µg/m3 for RSPM.

At present,air pollution in Mumbai is way higher than the new norms. On Tuesday,Mulund,which has a large number of small scale industries,saw 184 µg/m3 RSPM while Sion had a record 216 µg/m3 NO2 and 263 µg/m3 RSPM.

VRG Prakash,vice-president of Association of Small Scale Industries (Mulund) said,“For old industrial units like those in Mulund-Kanjurmarg belt,these requirements are not feasible. It seems the government is putting pressure on industries to leave for dedicated industrial complexes on the outskirts.”

Environmental activist Sumaira Abdulali said,“Utopian standards of pollution control are necessary but the government should take steps to maintain them…”

Mahesh Phatak,member secretary,MPCB said,“Though difficult,the ambient air norms can be brought into effect in a time-bound manner.”

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