Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) has decided to set up a real-time air quality monitoring station at Kalamboli. The proposal for setting up similar station in Kharghar and Taloja are in the pipeline. In an RTI reply, the MPCB informed about the development.
Bhagwan Keshbhat, founder of Waatavaran Foundation, an NGO working on environment confirmed about the decision.
Waatavaran Foundation has been constantly raising the issue of rising health impacts of Air Pollution amongst citizens of Kharghar, Taloja, Panvel city, Kalamboli.
“On March 8, 2021, we received a letter from MPCB in response to our RTI query informing us that they have got a No Objection Certificate (NOC) from Panvel Municipal Corporation to install Continuous Ambient Air Quality Monitoring Stations (CAAQMS) at Kalamboli,” said Keshbhat.
Besides, the MPCB has also sent proposals to install Continuous Ambient Air Quality Monitoring Stations (CAAQMS) at Kharghar and Taloja MIDC area. Meanwhile regarding the air pollution caused by Taloja MIDC, MPCB has asked Waatavaran to follow up the complaints with Taloja Regional Officer from MPCB.
The CAAQMS method involves automatic real-time data collection of pollutants measured in the ambient air across a maximum radius of 1500 meters. Each station records monitors eight pollutant parameters - particulate matter (PM2.5 and PM10), sulfur oxides (SOx), nitrogen oxides (NOx), volatile organic compounds (benzene, toluene, and xylene), hydrocarbons (methane and non-methane), carbon monoxide (CO), ozone (O3), and ammonia (NH3).
“This is an important move and we welcome this as Waatavaran strongly believes that monitoring of air quality in different parts of this belt including Kalamboli, Kharghar, Taloja MIDC and others are the very first step towards mitigating measures for air pollution,” said Keshbhat.
In December 2020, Waatavaran released a one-month long study that revealed that the PM 2.5 levels were highest during early morning hours as well as facts like residents from Kharghar-Taloja-Panvel were breathing polluted air for 17 hours every day.
In January 2021 Waatavaran installed a giant pair of faux lungs at a busy junction in Kharghar, which turned dark black from chalk-white in just 10 days. Several elected representatives Panvel MLA Prashant Thakur as well as Mayor of Panvel Municipal Corporation, Dr Kavita Choutmal visited the lungs billboard and understood the impact of rising air pollution.
A detailed report of all this was sent to Environment Minister Shri Aaditya Thackeray, Maharashtra Pollution Control Board, MLA, Mayor as well as local municipal authorities seeking setting up CAAQMS at various locations including Taloja, Kharghar and others to make sure real-time data is available along with creating a ‘Clean Air Action Plan’ focusing on Panvel.