22nd Nov, 2017
THANE : Breathless, could be the one word that can describe the life in the lake city. A study by the municipal administration has revealed that more than 90% of the over 22 lakh population live in areas where the air pollution levels breach the quality norms. They are inhaling invisible toxic pollutants that pose as a serious threat to their lungs and longevity.
The study conducted in 16 densely-populated areas in the city in May reveals that the magnitude of the crisis is more alarming in Kalwa, Gaodevi market and Kapurbawdi where lakhs of residents are exposed to 'highly polluted' atmosphere. The situation is equally bad in residential complexes and buildings that touch the road alongside Mulund check naka and Nitin Company where the air quality levels are a matter of serious concern and categorized as 'polluted'.
"Considering the number of residential homes and the people living there, more than 90% of the population step out of their homes and breath toxins that are equivalent to taking a deep long whiff from a jar filled with dust and toxic gases,'' said an official.
While there was no area which fell under the pollution-free bracket or good atmosphere, Pokhran Road 1 made it to the moderately polluted zone.
Meanwhile, environmentalists and activists fear that with the increase in development and vehicular traffic, the pollution levels have increased. The air pollution levels are bound to get worse in the days to come and the city may soon face a Delhi-like polluted environment.
"The main reason for pollution in Thane is the dust and gaseous toxins that come in to play wherever there is traffic congestion. This is followed by other reasons like construction work and so on. The highly polluted places like Kalwa Ward area, Gaondevi Market, Kapurbawdi junction have one thing in common, which is lack of traffic management," said citizen activist Chandrahas Tawde. "It is the responsibility of the civic body and the traffic police to keep the traffic smooth flowing by constructing scientifically designed traffic islands or even just diverting traffic in rush hour. Otherwise, this chaos results in thousands of vehicles spewing toxic gases in one pocket for hours at a stretch. The number of vehicles is bound to increase in the years to come, and if not controlled we could be looking at a Delhi-like situation here," he said.
While these activists and environmentalists talk about the grim reality of the status of the air quality here, civic officials point out that the string of initiatives taken up by the corporation has resulted in a decrease in pollution levels in the city.
"The overall air quality of the city has improved over the year. From an overall API of 78% in 2015-2016, the city's API has dropped to 69% in 2016-2017. The category has also dropped from highly polluted to 'polluted'. This is because of a string of initiatives, including the Swachh Bharat project, which has reduced waste generation," said a civic official.
"We have also installed air pollution controllers across various busy junctions to trap the particulate patter. The most impactful project was the road widening taken up on Pokhran Road 1. This project has decreased vehicular traffic which has brought down pollution levels and brought the API down from 67% in 2015-16 to 42% in 2016-17," she added.
Experts believe that the only way to control the rising air pollution in the city is using innovative methods and technology. "In cities like Mumbai and Thane, respirable suspended particulate matter, which is fine particles of dust, is more harmful than toxins present in smaller amounts. These particles settles down with the rains in monsoon and rises in summer. But, its worse in the winters as these particles mix with crystallised toxins in the air," said Amol Chaphekar, managing director of a Pune-based enviro-automation company which is working with the TMC on a PPP basis.
Source : timesofindia.indiatimes.com