Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) chief Praveen Pardeshi on Friday said the government is working on strengthening the city’s public transport infrastructure to ensure a cleaner environment.
Mr. Pardeshi made the statement at a consultative workshop organised by the Conservation Action Trust (CAT) and Waatavaran, two NGOs working on environmental issues in the country. Titled ‘Clearing the Air on Air Pollution: The Reality in Mumbai’, the workshop was held at the Royal Bombay Yacht Club in Colaba and was aimed at drawing attention to the increasing air pollution in Mumbai.
Mr. Pardeshi said, “The need today is to map out key industries causing air pollution and take appropriate action against them. We are focusing on reducing vehicular traffic by empowering the city’s public transport, because of which fewer people will use private vehicles. In a few months, we will bring in 3,000 more buses on the streets, most of which will be electric or CNG-powered. These buses will be smaller than the regular buses to make their navigation easier on narrow roads, but they will run more frequently.”
The other speakers at the event included co-director and founder of Urban Emissions Dr. Sarath Guttikunda, Sunil Dahiya from Greenpeace Organisation and Anumita Roy Chowdhury from the Centre for Science and Environment.
‘Need collective will’
Ms. Chowdhury said, “There is a need for a strong political will for public policies to take shape, and it is only possible with collective public opinion. This year, three major political parties included air pollution in their manifestos because of people’s collective will. There are many social platforms today to make it happen.”
She also cited an example of the waste management system in Kerala. “The people in Thiruvananthapuram used to dump their waste in nearby villages before the court restrained them from doing so. Today, many households have undertaken domestic measures for segregation, composting and recycling of solid waste. Community waste management has paved the way to a cleaner, less-polluted city. We need to come out of the ‘not in my backyard’ mindset,” she said. Mr. Pardeshi said her suggestions would be taken into consideration.
Ronak Sutaria, founder of Urban Sciences, spoke about air quality monitoring in the city. Mr Sutaria has developed ‘Atmos’, an affordable device that monitors particulate matter in air. “There is a discrepancy between the data generated by the Delhi Pollution Control Committee and the Central Pollution Control Board. The monitoring of particulate matter is important, because it is the only pollutant in the country that keeps exceeding its permissible limits all the time. Several groups must come together and work on making it happen, like the potential users, the regulators and the media.” he said.
Bilal Khan, an activist who is working with the displaced residents of Mahul, said, “The residences of the affected people are located at a distance of 15 m from the industrial area. Many of them belong to economically weaker sections. Their monthly income is less than their monthly expenditure on treatment of the diseases they have contracted as a result of pollution.”