Mumbai’s skyline remained engulfed with thick smog for the third consecutive day on Wednesday, as its Air Quality Index (AQI) nearly touched that of Delhi. While the System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR) recorded Mumbai’s AQI at 306, it was 309 in Delhi – both in the “very poor” category. Mumbai has been recording very poor AQI since Monday. Experts have attributed the deteriorating air quality to the ongoing infrastructure works and the current weather conditions.
“The weather is stagnant in Mumbai and the wind speed is slow. This has been amplified by the construction works for the Mumbai Metro and coastal road projects. Excavations and lifting works are being carried out, leading to emission of dust particulate matters in the air. Due to slow air speed, the particulate matter remains suspended in the lower atmosphere for long, affecting the air quality,” said Gufran Beig, scientist and programme director of SAFAR.
After Diwali, Mumbai’s AQI had dropped significantly. However, it recovered soon after a change in wind pattern. Beig said that being an island city, Mumbai’s AQI is mainly dependent on the speed of the wind.
“Also, there has been no reversal of wind patterns, due to which the city is recording poor AQI. Usually, wind pattern reversal happens much frequently in Mumbai than Delhi due to the sea. It is only after the wind speed increases that particulate matters disperse,” he added.
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Several pockets in Mumbai recorded AQI readings worse than Delhi on Wednesday. Mazagaon reported an AQI of 381, followed by Malad (323), Colaba and BKC (309), Andheri (303), Bhandup (280), Chembur (266), Worli (190) and Borivali (173).
Experts said there is a need to implement dust-mitigation policy in the city.
Sumaira Abdulali from NGO Awaaz foundation said that the current situation is entirely manmade. “Mumbai has geographical advantages that Delhi doesn’t have, since the latter is a landlocked state. Mumbai is an island city, still we have obstructed smooth air flow by building tall buildings. Now, construction works are being carried out in an unscientific manner.” “A dust-mitigation policy is already in place. However, the onus of implementing it lies with the urban local bodies and often they avoid implementing the rules to save resources. The municipal corporation is yet to come out with a detailed notification mentioning do’s and don’ts,” she added.
Meanwhile, the change in AQI has come with an increased demand for N-95 masks. “In the morning, one can hardly see 50 m ahead due to smog. Nobody
from our society is stepping out without wearing a mask these days,” said Sushant Deshmukh, a Powai resident.