Navi Mumbai: The world air quality index (AQI) 2019 has labelled Navi Mumbai as the most toxic city in the state. While the Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation (NMMC) claims to have taken a number of steps to control air pollution – like creating urban forests under the Miyawaki system, introducing electric bicycles and providing regular bicycles on rent – city environmentalists say the root cause of the problem needs to be addressed.
Environmentalists say setting up air purifiers is not a permanent solution. Bhagwan Kesbhat, founder of environmental NGO Waatavaran Foundation, said, “Developing cycle tracks, encouraging citizens to use public transport, setting up electric vehicle charging stations across the city and developing a mechanism to stop the use of old vehicles are a few measures that need to be taken to check air pollution.” He added that coordination with adjoining cities like Thane, Mumbai and Panvel needs to be strengthened to execute the National Clean Air Programme (NCAP). The Centre has set a fresh target of a 40% reduction in particulate matter concentration in cities covered under the NCAP by 2026, updating the earlier goal of 20-30% reduction by 2024.
BN Kumar, director of the NetConnect Foundation which works for the environment says that the NMMC must address the root cause. “This air purifier solution is a sheer waste of money. Air quality is poor due to several reasons. One of them is dwindling greenery and a lack open spaces,” he said, adding that there is no check on the pollution caused by thousands of trucks and vehicles entering the city due to wholesale markets or outstation-bound traffic. “Industrial pollution is another major contributor. NMMC only collects property taxes from them. They must strictly ensure anti-pollution measures are taken as well,” said Kumar.