In what could prove a breather to lakhs of people, who are forced to live with thick layers of cement dust generated by ready mix concrete (RMC) plants, minister of state for environment Sachin Ahir has ordered the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) to strictly monitor the polluting units.
Taking a serious note of the DNA report, ‘Breathless amid cement dust’, dated June 5, regarding air pollution by RMC plants, Ahir not only asked the MPCB to check for any pollution norm violation by RMC plants at major construction sites across the city, but also ordered it to submit a complete report within 15 days.
Admitting that “pollution generated by the RMC plants is a serious case of violation of pollution norms”, Ahir promised to bring to book all the erring RMC plants that flout environmental laws to make the lives of lakhs in the city rather miserable.
Meanwhile, the state has also decided to form flying squads to monitor the RMC plants across the state, especially Mumbai which sees large-scale projects coming up every other day near high-density areas. “Our squads will check pollution levels at the site to monitor and implement pollution control measures more efficiently,” said Ahir.
However, a severely understaffed state entity like MPCB, which works as a independent board, has its own limitation. Sources claimed the board is having to work with just a handful of flying squads. With nearly 50% posts lying vacant, it’s not possible to monitor a fast-developing city like Mumbai with the current strength.
MPCB officials also cited the few number of air pollution monitoring stations in city for the burgeoning RMC plant menace. Currently, the city has just two continuous air monitoring system, one at Bandra and other at Worli. BMC (7), MPCB (2) and NEERI (2) together have 11 more stations that manually monitor the ambient air quality, but there is hardly any coordination among them. Besides, four corporates, Tata Power, HPCL, BPCL and RCF too have a total of nine continuous air monitoring system near their industries.