Nine of 18 cities in the state under the National Clean Air Programme (NCAP) witnessed an increase in air pollution in 2019 over the existing levels in 2017, Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) has said in a report.
Aurangabad, Chandrapur, Jalna, Kolhapur, Latur, Nagpur, Mumbai, Pune and Thane are the nine cities where Particulate Matter (PM) 10 – the main pollutant of air – had increased.
The Union government had launched NCAP on January 10, 2019, to address air pollution in 102 cities, of which 18 are from Maharashtra. These cities are referred to as non-attainment cities (NACs), as they did not meet the national ambient air quality standards (NAAQS) for 2011-15. Each city was asked to develop a clean action plan. Respirable Suspended Particulate Matter (RSPM) or PM 10 is the main constituent of air pollution. The major pollutant for all the 18 cities is PM 10. It also poses the greatest risk to human health because these particles are tiny enough to enter the lungs through respiration and some may even enter the bloodstream.
Nagpur and Thane recorded 18 per cent and 17 per cent increase in PM 10 levels between 2017 and 2019 while Mumbai’s PM 10 annual average remained the same at 125µg/m3 both the years. The standard annual limit for RSPM concentration is 60 µg/m3.
The MPCB noted that all nine NACs that require improvement in PM 10 levels are developing cities. “There are ongoing construction activities in both residential and commercial sectors (road, Metro and residential complexes), so, re-suspension of dust is major issue.”
PM 10 includes dust from construction sites, landfills and agriculture, wildfires and brush/waste burning, industrial sources, wind-blown dust from open lands, pollen and fragments of bacteria. Depending on the site/cities, the concentration of the source of PM 10 pollutant can differ.
“When analysing data, it is crucial to see number of monitors in each city, increase or decrease of monitoring capacity and number of readings available per monitor every year,” said Ronak Sutaria, founder and director of Mumbai-based air quality researchers Respirer Living Sciences Pvt Ltd.
Under MPCB, there are three monitoring stations – two in industrial and one in residential areas – in Thane. None are continuous air quality monitoring station (CAQMS). The stations collect/monitor pollutants (NOx, sulphur, RSPM) one week (one station) and twice a week (for two others). In comparison, Mumbai has 15 CAQMS. Of four stations in Nagpur, only one is CAQMS.
In addition to 15 CAQMS in Mumbai, five more will come up in Mahul village-Chembur; Shivaji Nagar-Deonar; Pant Nagar-Ghatkopar; Charkop-Kandivli (West) and Byculla zoo.
Under NCAP, MPCB has released Rs 30.65 crore to municipal corporations to implement the clean air action plan. Of the Rs 30.65 crore, Mumbai (Rs 9.5 crore), Pune (Rs 9.45 crore), Navi Mumbai (Rs 5.58 crore) and Nagpur (Rs 5.85 crore) have received funds. MPCB on Wednesday approved the installation of a CAQMS at Kalamboli in Navi Mumbai. Currently, of the four stations, only one is CAQMS. The one in Vashi is not operational.