Mumbai: It seems as though Maharashtra is vying with New Delhi for the worst air quality title. There are 102 cities in India which have violated the ‘most toxic’ air ceiling and their respective state governments are yet to take remedial measures. What is so smart about a city with bad air? That is a question for the 43 smart cities with toxic air to answer and speaks volumes for gated communities.
The union Ministry for Environment, Forests and climate change (MoEF) has demanded an action plan from the state governments. Mumbai residents, who until now, turned up their noses at their counterparts in Delhi for breathing the most polluted air, are now serious contenders for the same distinction.
Mumbai, Navi Mumbai, Badlapur, Ulhasnagar, Pune, Nashik, Kolhapur and Nagpur, are among the 17 cities in Maharashtra with toxic air. The union government had released the data on air pollution and toxicity in August 2018. However, the states have taken no effort to remedy the situation.
According to Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), Pune, Badlapur and Ulhasnagar have recorded very high levels of nitrogen dioxide, touching toxic levels and Vidarbha, Nagpur, Akola, Amravati and Chandrapur are the most polluted cities.
MoEF launched a national clean air programme on Thursday. The respective state governments of 102 toxic cities have been asked to give presentations and the remedial measures they propose to take to improve air quality.
The MoEF officials noted that despite releasing data on toxic and polluted cities, no action has been taken by the state governments as yet. Mumbai, Pune, Aurangabad, Amravati, Jalna, Kolhapur and Latur had submitted action plans which were rejected. After that they have failed to submit the revised plans.
The central government has given a few guidelines, stating that Particulate Matter 10 levels should not exceed 60 microgram per cubic metre in a year, while nitrogen dioxide levels should not cross 40. Once these limits are breached, then cities are termed as ‘toxic’. Particulates are dangerous pollutants due to their ability to penetrate deep into one’s lungs and blood streams unfiltered, causing permanent DNA mutations, heart attacks, respiratory diseases and premature deaths.