Mira-Bhayandar: The Mira Bhayandar Municipal Corporation (MBMC) chief Sanjay Katkar has given the right to award permissions for setting up ready-mix-cement (RMC) plants to the town planning department.
The responsibility was earlier shouldered by the assistant municipal commissioners (AMC) attached to the wards concerned who tabled the proposals before the deputy municipal commissioner for approvals. The exponential rise in construction activities by private developers and ongoing infrastructure projects by government agencies has attracted the attention of nearly 21 companies that have set up their RMC plants in the region to ensure a steady supply of ready mix. However, hundreds of families living in the surrounding areas, especially in Ghodbunder village and other parts of Kashimira, have been alleging that their lives had become miserable due to the degrading air quality allegedly caused by the RMC plants.
“While the infrastructural compliance for setting up RMC plants falls in the domain of the town planning department which has the expertise in this field these facilities operate only after official approvals from the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB). However, it will be ensured that these plants follow all norms so that citizens are not subjected to any kind of pollution,” said the civic chief.
Air quality concerns prompt regulatory measures
The issue came to the fore after the MBMC started taking steps to curb air pollution after the air quality index (AQI) plunged to 130 which is considered unhealthy for sensitive groups. The steps included a survey of industries including construction sites and RMC plants to ascertain and plug the major sources of air pollution by formulating Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs).
The survey made it clear that, apart from construction sites, some of the RMC plants had thrown the rulebooks to the wind, prompting the civic chief to give the rights to award permissions for setting up RMC plants to the assistant director of town planning (ADTP).
As per a resolution passed by the general body, RMC plants can come up only in industrial areas or away from residential areas with a 500-meter buffer zone. Moreover, such plants are mandated to install pollution-remediation measures. "Apart from chances of accidents due to the continuous movement of dumpers throughout the day, the layers of cement dust are not only causing a health hazard in the form of breathing problems, allergies, especially in senior citizens, pregnant women and children but such units are also dangerous for the environment,” said a local resident. After the Suo-motto intervention of the State Human Rights Commission (SHRC), the MBMC issued stop-work notices to a couple of illegally operating RMC plants in April, this year.