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BMC warns of shutting down construction sites not taking pollution control measures in Mumbai

Mumbai: With the air quality deteriorating in Mumbai, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has warned that it would stop construction anywhere, may it be a private site or a government project, if dust and pollution control measures are not being taken.

Construction is going on at a whopping 6,000 sites in the city currently, an official release quoted municipal commissioner Iqbal Singh Chahal as saying on Friday.

The Air Quality Index (AQI) in the city was above 200 (poor) at several places in the city during the day, the Central Pollution Control Board data showed.

Chahal, who is acting as administrator of the civic body as its elections are pending, held a meeting with all stakeholders in view of the alarming air pollution levels in the city, the BMC release said.

“At all these places (where construction is going on) dust and pollution-control measures should be implemented. Else, construction will be stopped, be it private or government work,” he warned.

Congress leader and former opposition leader in the BMC Ravi Raja said Mumbai’s AQI was the worst among cities in the country on Thursday, but the administration did not implement a single guideline of its own pollution mitigation plan.

“The city faced the same problem last year too and then the BMC released the Mumbai Air Pollution Mitigation Plan in March 2023. But it seems that not even one guideline was implemented,” he said in a statement.

Thousands of people are suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases, and kids and elderly people are the worst sufferers, he said.

The BMC release, meanwhile, said standard operating procedures or guidelines for ensuring better air quality will be issued by Monday.

At the meeting, Chahal suggested various measures like compulsory use of 35-feet high iron sheet enclosures around construction sites and covering under-construction buildings with green cloth or jute sheets on all sides.

Sprinkler systems should be provided at all construction sites within 15 days and anti-smog guns should be provided within 30 days, the release said.

The civic body is also going to operate anti-smog guns on 50 to 60 major roads, the release said.

The Maharashtra Pollution Control Board and the BMC would depute experts to verify the level of pollution caused by refineries in the city, Tata Power plant and RCF plant and check these sites for pollution control measures, it said.

“Random samples shall be collected by the experts from these installations on a regular basis and they shall be chemically analysed to ensure that no pollution is caused by these plants,” the release said.

Air quality in the Mumbai region worsened barely two weeks after the end of monsoon, the BMC noted, and added that the central and Maharashtra governments have also taken note of it.

“Climate change is adversely affecting the air quality of the Mumbai metropolitan area, including the Mumbai region,” the release added.

Government agencies executing metro, road and other projects must enclose their construction sites and provide sprinkler systems and anti-smog guns, the BMC said.

Chahal instructed that vehicles transporting construction debris shall be covered properly with tarpaulin sheets and not carry more than the prescribed load.

The transport commissioner’s office should take stringent action against vehicles which are past their service life, do not have a Pollution Under Control (PUC) certificate or are overloading, the release said.

(Published 21 October 2023, 04:56 IST)

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