Mumbai: Sprinklers, barriers and anti-smog guns to be made mandatory

To beat the dust demon created by construction sites, in light of the abysmal air quality the city has been experiencing recently, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) is adding a few more measures to its dust-mitigation guidelines. The civic body will make it mandatory to use anti-smoke guns and install sprinklers at construction sites. It is also thinking about raising the height of metal sheets that must be set up around them by 10 feet.

The city’s air quality index (AQI) on Thursday was worse than Delhi’s for the second consecutive day as a dense veil of smog enveloped the metropolis. On Wednesday, Mumbai`s PM10 (particulate material) level was 143 as opposed to Delhi’s 122. An AQI between 201 and 300 is categorised as poor while any figure above 300 is categorised as very poor by the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology-managed System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR). On Thursday evening, the PM10 level of the city was 154 while Delhi’s was 119, according to the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board.

A BMC worker combats dust with a vacuum machine near Aarey Colony on April 26, 2020. File Pic/Satej Shinde

Chakala in Andheri East recorded high pollution levels in the city, with an AQI of 500 while Mazagoan came second at 498. That of Bandra Kurla Complex was 257. On October 3, mid-day highlighted an alarming report according to which the pollution in 2022-2023 was the highest seen in the past four years; officials blamed it on rampant construction activity.

More dust-mitigation measures

According to the present dust-mitigation guidelines, which were published on April 1 this year, it is mandatory set put 20-foot-high tin or metal sheets around construction sites. An official said, “We are thinking of raising the height to 30 feet, a height of three storeys. The BMC’s building proposals department is working on this. The department has conducted several meetings and discussions with experts and officers in this regard.

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He added, “Also, we are making it mandatory to use anti-smoke guns at construction sites and install sprinklers. We had put out guidelines for construction sites and BMC teams are monitoring their enforcement. We will publish the additional dust-mitigation measures soon. Mumbai City Guardian Minister Deepak Kesarkar said on Wednesday that dust from construction sites was a major contributor to pollution, and we are working on tackling this issue.”

‘Task force working at ward level’

According to the official, a task force comprising an assistant engineer of the building and factory and building proposal departments as well as a sub-engineer of the encroachment and removal department are ensuring that the guidelines are implemented at the ward level.

According to the guidelines, apart from wind-breaking tin or metal sheets, tarpaulin, green cloth or jute sheets are mandatory at construction sites. Water must also be sprinkled during demolitions. Debris must also be transported to designated sites approved by the BMC. Vehicle tyres should also be cleaned before they emerge from construction sites.

Expert Speak

Environmentalist Anand Pendharkar hailed the intention taken to curb pollution, but added, “It should be checked whether the measures being taken are scientifically correct. Also, if the height of the dust-proof sheets at the construction site is going to be 30 feet, will it really work because work takes place even above that height.”

Sree Kumar Kumaraswamy, programme director, Sustainable Cities and Transport, WRI India, said, “To tackle construction dust, we need solutions that are scientifically verified and have data support to show the long-term mitigation impact. Planning and actions based on science-backed methods for reducing the emission of pollutants at source can be more effective.”

PM10 level of BKC on Thursday evening

PM10 level of Mumbai on Thursday evening

PM10 level of Delhi on Thursday evening

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