“The transport sector is the biggest source of air pollution in Mumbai” – Gaonconnection
An analysis of PM2.5 pollutants in Mumbai, Maharashtra, revealed that emissions from the transport sector have nearly doubled in the past five years. It went from 16% in 2016-2017 to 30.5% in 2019-2020.
The analysis, which was released today (June 29) was carried out by the System of Air Quality Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR), a research management organization that provides data on air quality and pollution, under the aegis of the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM). Pune.
According to the study, PM2.5 has a very negative impact on health. The particulate matter can remain suspended in the environment for days or even weeks, and is small enough to invade the pulmonary airways. Toxic gases such as NO2, formed by the combustion of coal and oil, as well as vehicle emissions can aggravate respiratory ailments.
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The 2019-2020 source estimate by SAFAR revealed that 30.5% of PM2.5 emissions came from the transport sector; 18 percent came from industries and the power sector, while 15 percent came from cooking, burning waste, wood and cow dung, as well as emissions from street vendors.
The other contributors were windblown dust (15%) and other sources (21.5%), including municipal solid waste, factory incineration, crematoriums, the aviation industry, brick kilns, etc.
In 2016-17, according to SAFAR, the main contributor of PM2.5 was industry and the electricity sector with 36%. Transportation accounted for 16 percent. The rest was brought in by cooking etc. in residential areas (27%) and windblown dust (21%).
âAlthough new industries or power plants are not set up in Mumbai, vehicles continue to grow,â said Anumita Roy Chowdhury, executive director of research and advocacy, Center for Science and Environment, a nonprofit organization Delhi-based Public Interest Research and Advocacy.
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Increase in vehicles, increase in air pollution
âThe transportation sector has seen a drastic increase over five years as a contributor to PM2.5 pollution in Mumbai. This is a combination of both an increase in the number of vehicles in the city and increased stagnation at intersections leading to traffic jams, âsaid Gufran Beig, Senior Scientist and Founding Project Director, SAFAR.
According to the Maharashtra Department of Transportation, Mumbai topped the historic four million vehicle figure earlier this year with 1.16 million passenger cars and around 2.4 million two-wheelers. In 2016-17, the total number of vehicles stood at 3.069 million. In 2011-12, the number was 2.028 million.
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Mumbai is fortunate to be surrounded by the ocean on three sides, which contributes to the rapid dispersal of pollutants. âHowever, now the alarm bells are ringing. We are approaching a tipping point where these natural factors will no longer make any difference to the overall pollution scenario, âBeig warned. He suggested that the treatment of emissions by sector was essential to address the problem of air pollution in the city.
What can be done?
The study suggested measures that could be taken to tackle Mumbai’s transport emissions.
- Controlling exhaust emissions through an old policy of phasing out vehicles, in particular for commercial vehicles; and a scrapping policy for the city.
- Implement an electric vehicle policy beyond one for the state that has a targeted mandate for segment electrification (two-wheel, three-wheel, four-wheel) quickly over time.
- Powerful on-road emissions monitoring system with remote sensing technology.
- Mobility strategies within the framework of the city master plan. This could cover scaling up the public transport system, improving walking and cycling infrastructure, a dedicated parking policy focused on air quality, low emission zones and increased pedestrianization.
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