Mumbai: A year on, 5 BMC air quality stations still a distant dream

Approved last year, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) is yet to set up the five continuous ambient air quality monitoring stations (CAAQMS) in the city. According to the officials of the BMC environment department, the tender was floated and the civic body received two offers, however, the civic body is in the process of scrutinising bids.

The five CAAQMS will come up in Mahul village - Chembur; Shivaji Nagar - Deonar; Pant Nagar - Ghatkopar; Charkop - Kandivli (West); and Veer Mata Jijabai Bhosale Udyan And Zoo, Byculla. These five stations will be the first real-time network setup by BMC in Mumbai, apart from the 10 existing stations run by the System of Air Quality Weather Forecasting And Research (SAFAR) and another 15 by MPCB. These five stations will also have display boards showing the air quality index (AQI) with its impact and weather information for 24 hours. It is estimated to cost the civic body about Rs 10 crore.

"The technical aspects of the bids have been scrutinised already, we are now in process of scrutinising the financial aspect and preparing a proposal for negotiating finances with the firms which responded," said an executive engineer of the BMC Environment department.

These stations will record levels of PM2.5 and PM10, sulphur oxides, nitrogen oxides, hydrocarbons carbon monoxide, ozone, and ammonia. “These stations will transfer online data to MPCB and CPCB. The idea is to do better planning to combat air pollution, which is possible only when there is area-specific air quality data. There is no delay as such in the project, though we did lose some time to pandemic related issues.”

Once finalised the civic body-appointed agency will take care of these stations for five years. After setting up these five stations , the BMC is planning to set up more stations in the second phase.

In the first phase of BMC’s plan, the selected locations include five locations identified as critically-polluted by the Central Pollution Control Board in 2014.

The locations being discussed for the next set of stations are Love Grove, Worli; Hasnabad Municipal School in Khar (West); BMC school in Tilak Nagar, Chembur; KMJ Phule Hospital, Vikhroli; T-Ward office in Mulund (West); and selected spots in Prabhadevi, Saki Naka, and Oshiwara.

An official said "The second phase will entail the installation of 127 sensor-based low-cost air monitoring devices across select locations."

These stations are being set up under the Centre’s National Clean Air Programme, which was launched by the Union Environment Ministry in 2019. The programme aims to reduce the pollution levels across the country to less than 20% in the next five years.

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