Pollution in Mumbai


Of late, I am noticing worsening levels of air pollution in Mumbai.

Unless the government takes total responsibility and introduces legislation to levy fines on polluting industries and bodies as well as citizens, situation will only keep deteriorating. Heavy fines on the originators of air and water pollutions would make people finally think about the current and future consequences to their health, their childrens’ well-being and the future of the city.

Apart from enacting a tough-to-violate legislation, the government should also follow the lead of Delhi and eliminate gas-guzzling vehicles from the roads. Old vehicles of any kind should go off the road, irrespective of political impact that such unpopular decisions might have – the government of the day has to worry about the overall health of its citizens rather than pandering to political constituencies. It is rather critical now to take those key decisions and move forward.

Delhi was one of the most polluted cities in the world, and over the past few years it has become one of the least polluted atleast in India. This is not due to political or government leadership, but due to judicial activism from the portals of the Supreme Court of India, which saw that the dithering politicians are not going to decide on controlling “economic” advantages of pollution-filled environment and moved to pass court orders to reduce pollution levels by asking all buses to run on CNG (Compressed Natural Gas). The result is there for all to see – hardly any bus/lorry-generated air pollution.

But do other large cities, such as Mumbai, have the guts to enact such rules ?

While our governments dither, the pollution keeps increasing. In one recent study, the permissible level of air particles in an area called Sion in Central Mumbai measured 324 units as against the permissible level of 100 units. Who are the main sufferers – people with weak lungs : small children and elderly citizens. Such high levels of pollution causes chronic bronchitis.

Is the government going to wake up and take serious actions ? That would be anybody’s guess today. In the name of industrialization, are we going to compromise the health of millions of citizens ? The choice is amply clear for any rational body or individual. Is the choice clear to the government and the courts of law in this part of the country ? Immediate and concerted actions, with no fear or favour, and limiting construction activity within the main city and its suburbs, would lead to much improved levels of pollution index.

To become a world-class city and allow the citizens to enjoy a good quality of life, it is imperative that we look at the environmental sustainability and control the bad influences on the environment. I hope the government, and if not the government, the courts of law, will raise the matter. The only alternative is public litigation and the voice of the concerned citizens.

Cheers,

Vijay Srinivasan
31st October 2010
Mumbai

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