Construction dust to blame for chronic bad air spots, ET RealEstate

October 28, 2023

MUMBAI: A few spots in the city have consistently fared poorly on the city’s air quality index (AQI) graph. TOI visited these spots and found several sources of pollution, from debris dumping to a proliferation of construction activity, which justified residents’ concerns about poor air.

For instance, in Andheri (West), residents of the 12-story Chitralekha Heritage Society are fed up with the daily influx of construction debris-laden trucks into their neighborhood, which they believe is causing severe health problems.

According to the residents, over 50 such trucks enter the area daily, even during nighttime, leading to significant noise and air pollution issues. Harshvardhan Patil, one of the residents, expressed frustration with the lack of action from authorities, stating that despite BMC’s guidelines on paper, the situation on the ground remains dire. “The trucks are not covered. Complaints have not borne fruit,” he said.

In Charkop, residents are grappling with over a dozen ongoing construction projects that force them to keep their windows shut. They describe how plants watered in the morning turn dusty by afternoon, making it challenging to move around home without slippers.

“In the post-lockdown period, construction activity has increased so much that the entire area is dusty all the time,” said Milli Shetty, a local. “We have never seen the dividers on the roads so dusty. The increase in dust is clearly visible.”

BKC is another pollution hotspot due to the ongoing Metro project and also bullet train terminus. Hemant Bhosale, a local resident, complained about constant dust and congestion, particularly on BKC Road. At nearby Kurla, a local, Hemant Bhosale, said, “Too much construction activity is underway. Till a few months ago, there was work on the SCLR Extension project. The entire stretch, especially between Asian Heart Hospital and Kurla-LBS Road junction, is dusty.”

When one takes the ramp of SCLR Extension to go towards Kurla, one can witness the surface of the road covered with layers of dust, which is blown off by passing vehicles. Vehicular emissions add to the pollution. Radhika Kadam, a commuter said, “We get covered in dust waiting for buses and autorickshaws. Not all of the carriageway is available, because of which there is severe congestion on BKC Road.”

Experts highlight the need to enforce regulations for proper management of readymix cement concrete plants (RMC) and construction & demolition (C & D) waste to improve living conditions in these areas. Ronak Sutaria, founder of Respirer Living Sciences, suggests that Mumbai could consider implementing low-emission zones (LEZs) or zero-emission zones (ZEZs), especially in areas near hospitals and old age homes.

Currently, ZEZs have been established in certain tourist areas like the Taj Mahal in Agra, the Statue of Unity in Kevadia, and the ecologically sensitive hill station of Matheran.

A spokesperson of the National High Speed Rail Corporation, which is executing the bullet train project, said, “Dust mitigation measures such as sprinkling water on the ground, and wheel-wash are followed at construction sites regularly. Water mist guns are also planned to be installed in the coming days.”

  • Published On Oct 28, 2023 at 09:39 AM IST

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