Mumbai: Mumbai has the sixth worst air quality index (AQI) in the country, according to a new list issued by IQAir, a Swiss air quality technology company.
Pimpri (second position), Nagpur (fourth) and Pune (fifth) are the other three cities in Maharashtra to be included in the Top 10. Delhi has the worst AQI.
An official said there are several reasons why Mumbai’s air quality is ‘worst to moderate’, including construction activity and change in weather patterns.
Dust from construction sites is the main cause
“More than 6,000 construction works are being carried out in Mumbai and most of them do not follow basic guidelines to prevent dust from the sites. Moreover, there has been a drastic change in weather, which is adversely affecting the air quality of the Mumbai metropolitan area,” the BMC said in a statement on October 20.
The AQI score is based on the US system. A score of between 0-50 is good, 51-100 is moderate, 101-150 is unhealthy for sensitive groups, 151-200 is unhealthy, 201-300 is very unhealthy and >301 is hazardous. The concentration of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) in Mumbai was 58.2 ug/m3 on Tuesday, which is 11.6 times the World Health Organization’s annual air quality guideline value.
The Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) said it had asked officials to take stern action against ready-mix concrete (RMC) plants if they were found flouting anti-pollution guidelines.
“We have ordered an extensive survey of RMC plants and those breaching ambient air quality norms will be punished,” an official said.
Even as winter is yet to arrive, areas such as Chembur, Andheri, Navi Mumbai, BKC, Malad and Mazgaon have already started showing moderate to poor air quality, as per SAFAR (System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research).
Air pollution responsible for 1.6 million deaths in India
Around 1.6 million deaths in the country in 2019 were due to air pollution, according to a study published in The Lancet in December 2020 titled ‘Health and Economic Impact of Air Pollution in the States of India: the Global Burden of Disease Study 2019’.
A civic official said that in the city’s sprawling suburbs, old buildings are being pulled down to make way for tall new residential and commercial towers. Mega infrastructure projects that include a new coastal road and metro lines are under construction to ease congestion in a city whose roads are routinely choked with traffic.