Mumbai’s air quality has seen a drastic dip since the recent good days during monsoonal months. From 12-15 in June and July, the air quality index (AQI) fell to 121 (categorised as ‘poor’) on Monday. Delhi, meanwhile, recorded 150 AQI which falls in the ‘very poor’ category.
As per the System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting And Research (SAFAR), Mumbai witnessed some of the best clean-air days owing to good rainfall. Speaking about the phenomenon, SAFAR Project Director Gufran Beig said that “Mumbai experiences good quality air during monsoon only because rainfall washes away the pollutants and strong winds take them further from the city. However, owing to the lack of both high-speed winds and rainfall, the city will slowly move towards higher air pollution levels again.”
In July, the AQI mostly remained below 20, while August experienced even better air days with an AQI of under- 15. On August 16, the city witnessed lowest-ever recorded (for the second time) AQI of 10. The AQI of 309 on May 20 was worse than Delhi due to repeated dust storms from the northwest.
Non-profit Vanashakti’s director Stalin D said, “Air pollution is caused by high levels of suspended particulate matter, which has become worse, In fact, today’s (Monday) skyline was visibly thick with dust. This will mostly be the norm till February and we will experience extreme air pollution this winter.” He said the city is in the ‘danger’ category just days after the monsoon retreated. “This will cause a lot of respiratory illnesses like asthma and the worst hit will be children and the elderly. Air pollution is not yet taken very seriously by our state government... The safest thing to do is to declare a holiday for schools on bad air quality days,” he said.
Sumaira Abdulali of non-profit Awaaz Foundation said, “Everyone is just quick to blame each other on what causes air pollution. People who burst crackers say that vehicular pollution is more serious. Motorists say construction work and industries are more serious. Everyone as an individual must first take it up and consciously make sure that we don’t become a source of air pollution.”