On the eve of the World Environment Day, ‘Let Me Breathe (LMB)’, a platform that documents and narrates stories of living and surviving air pollution in India hosted its fourth session with Twitter India in Mumbai. The aim of the session was to find collective solutions to all kinds of issues in Mumbai including pollution, climate change, and sustainability. When you say ‘pollution’ and ‘Mumbai’, the first thing that comes to your mind is ‘Mahul’. A place where residents are living in a toxic environment. The air they breathe is poisonous and the water they drink is contaminated. The BMC has rehabilitated these residents from various parts of Mumbai. These rehabilitation has resulted in people suffering from skin diseases, respiratory disorders, tuberculosis, and other severe health issues.
Yuva Sena President Aditya Thackeray feels the only solution to Mahul crisis is creating a green belt around the area. He also adds people need to be moved out from there and not shift in many more people as the area has become high in terms of water and air pollution. He says, “Mahul has a couple of refineries which you cannot move out form Mumbai because it has been there for years and it is also essential for our country. The only solution to it is, according to the court order, create a green zone around it, we need to focus on that. The other solution to that is there are around 2,000 people who are living in an extreme danger zone. The honourable CM and I have been trying to coordinate on the same with the help of different agencies including MHADA to help people move out and not shift in more people. Because the area has become high in terms of water pollution, air pollution, and every possible pollution.”
Aditya states that Mahul is unsafe for its residents and no amount of amenities can help them and they must be moved out immediately. He says, “The MPCB, Neeri, and IITs have various reports where they say everything is polluted. Of course, there was a proposal from BMC, state and central to invest in terms of dispensaries, schools and better housing but if you can’t breathe clean air and drink clean water, the number of dispensaries, schools, and better houses are not enough. We need to shift them out immediately to another area. We are trying to work with MHADA to shift them to better places and that is going on right now and within a month or so they will be shifted out at least from the high-risk areas.” He further adds, “The only problem is where you shift them? Right now the work going on in the city you have tenants occupied by project-affected people some from metro, highway and we are looking for space where everyone can be shifted.”
The panel was moderated by Neeta Kolhatkar, City Editor of The Free Press Journal, and on the panel were Leaders across the political spectrum – Aditya Thackeray (President, Yuva Sena), Milind Deora (President, INC Mumbai), Ashish Shelar (President, BJP Mumbai) and Kishore Mandhyan (Co-convener, AAP Maharashtra).