Yuva Sena leader Aaditya Thackeray on Saturday wrote to the Centre raising the issue of air pollution in Mumbai, citing widespread construction activities and lack of effective supervision to control them. In a letter to Bhupender Yadav, Union minister for environment, forest and climate change, Thackeray also said Maharashtra does not have an independent environment minister to look into the issue.
“In the past 6 months, the air quality in Mumbai has consistently been rated as “Poor” to “Very Poor” on the AQI (air quality index). Other cities in Maharashtra are also posting concerning air quality numbers,” he said.
The entire city is undergoing construction, causing a large amount of dust and debris, much of which is left unattended and unchecked. Measures are needed to help the Urban Development Department and local bodies understand the consolidated impact construction has on the city’s environment, he said.
“Construction activity in Mumbai is widespread and lacks effective supervision,” the former state environment minister said.
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As per the System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting And Research (SAFAR), Mumbai’s air quality index stood at a “moderate” 159 on Saturday. Flagging rising air pollution in Mumbai, the city civic body recently set up a panel to suggest dust control measures.
The city has refineries and fertiliser plants on its eastern coast, and the round-the-clock industrial activity there is having a direct impact on the air quality in the city, Thackeray said.
Residents in the vicinity of places like Mahul or Wadala are feeling the impact of the poor air quality and foul smell, he added. Thackeray said the Centre should evaluate and relocate these plants away from the city. In 2022, Mumbai launched its Climate Action Plan, which was heralded by the climate policy community and covered by acclaimed journals worldwide. He also asked to direct the relevant stakeholders in the city’s civic administration to establish a climate cell as was suggested by the policy plan. With G20 events being held in the city, its global reputation is at stake, he said. Most importantly, the health of the citizens should take precedence over political differences, Thackeray said.
He said climate change has had a serious impact on the city’s weather patterns, changing the speed and direction of winds, and causing polluted air to remain within the city instead of flowing towards the coast. He also asked that authorities be directed to install mobile sensors across the city, saying the existing sensors do not cover its entire area. This would provide more insights for addressing the air quality problem and help reconcile data authenticity of AQI currently measured, he said.
Thackeray also raised the issue of Aarey Metro car shed, a bone of contention between the then Uddhav Thackeray government and the current Eknath Shinde-led government. “The current administration in Maharashtra is focused on monetising the city’s green spaces. The healthy Aarey forest has been compromised against the city’s will and with vengeance,” he alleged.