Chief Minister Eknath Shinde conducted a comprehensive review of the air pollution mitigation efforts implemented by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) early on Tuesday. Expressing satisfaction with the measures taken, Shinde commended the BMC's initiatives, a notable departure from the criticism it had faced from the High Court, social activists, media, and citizens regarding the city's poor air quality.
BMC's measures to combat air pollution
The BMC has undertaken a range of initiatives to combat air pollution in Mumbai. These include the deployment of anti-smog machines, road cleaning, covering construction sites, and daily water sprinkling on construction sites. Chief Minister Shinde, accompanied by BMC Commissioner Iqbal Singh Chahal, Additional Commissioner Dr. Sudhakar Shinde, and officers from solid waste management and assistant commissioners, visited various locations in Mumbai in the early hours. The visit included stops at D ward, encompassing Malabar Hill, Pedder Road, and the Grant Road area, to inspect divider cleaning efforts. Subsequently, Shinde visited locations in the H-east ward, including Kalanagar, Kherwadi junction, Maratha colony, Milan subway area, Juhu Tara Road, Linking Road, Turner Road, and parts of Andheri East to assess road and footpath cleaning, as well as anti-dust measures.
The Chief Minister concluded his visit at Carter Road's joggers park, engaging in a discussion with senior citizens after reviewing air pollution mitigation measures.
Cloud seeding collaboration with Dubai firm
Addressing the media, CM Shinde announced that he has directed the BMC to enter into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with a Dubai-based firm specializing in cloud seeding. This collaboration aims to facilitate immediate cloud seeding in Mumbai if air quality further deteriorates.
"The BMC is in contact with a Dubai-based firm, which has expertise in the field of cloud seeding, and an MoU will be signed between the BMC and the firm soon to ensure that cloud seeding could be done immediately if pollution levels increase further in Mumbai," Shinde stated.
In addition to emphasizing the need for well-equipped machinery to control air pollution, Shinde expressed his satisfaction with the ongoing measures, stating, "I have personally seen the work done by the BMC. Dust particles have been reduced after the use of foggers and anti-smog machines. Whatever instructions I have given to the BMC administration, those are being implemented. I am appealing to developers and contractors to cooperate with the BMC administration to curb air pollution."
Shinde also mentioned plans for potential cloud seeding, directing the BMC to maintain the cleanliness of small roads, lanes, colonies, beaches, and nullahs. He emphasized the regular disinfection of public toilets and called for an increase in tree plantation in Mumbai, specifying planting trees between dividers and in open spaces.
However, Mumbai Congress president and former education minister Varsha Gaikwad criticized CM Shinde's visit, citing previous instances where projects supposedly fell short after his reviews. Gaikwad pointed to waterlogging incidents during the monsoon and the Mumbai beautification program as examples of unmet expectations. She urged Shinde to refrain from praising the BMC, highlighting unresolved issues such as hanging wires, unlit street lights, and the failure to address post-Diwali air pollution caused by fireworks. Gaikwad emphasized the ongoing health concerns faced by residents, urging Shinde to prioritize effective action over commendation.