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International Meet on Combating Air Pollution

Why do we need an international meet in India, you may wonder. But most of you will not, if you are from India.

One only has to land in India by air to see the alarming levels of air pollution.

That is why we are holding an International Meet on Combating Air Pollution on March 10-11, 2017 in New Delhi.

Urgent need to address air pollution through Private Public Partnership Environment is the most important social determinant of health, causing morbidity and mortality in a given population. The WHO’s comprehensive global assessment of the burden of disease from environmental risks reveals that globally, an estimated 24% of the burden of disease and 23% of all deaths can be attributed to environmental factors. Further, globally, non-communicable diseases (NCDs) deaths, attributable to air pollution, are amounting to 8.2 million of the total 12.6 million death. NCDs, such as cardiovascular diseases including stroke, cancers and chronic respiratory disease, now claim nearly two-thirds of the total deaths caused by unhealthy environments.

The Global Burden of Disease (2010) data showed that household air pollution was ranked at the 3rd position and ambient air pollution at the 9th position among the leading risk factors that contribute to morbidity and Disability-adjusted life years (DALYs). Household and ambient air pollution are the leading risk factors contributing to burden of disease in India. Household air pollution contributed to nearly 3.5 million deaths and a loss of 3.5% DALYs globally (2010). Ambient air pollution contributed to another 3.1 million deaths and 3.1% DALYs. The ambient ozone pollution had a lower effect than the above and led to 0.2 million deaths and 0.2% DALYs in 2010.

Cognizant of the fact that air pollution needs to be addressed in right earnest, a Steering Committee was constituted, by the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare (MoHFW), Govt. of India in 2014, with members drawn from both health and non-health sectors. The report of this Committee, released in December 2015, has been able to shift the historical ‘urban air pollution centric focus’ to the ‘burning of biomass fuel across rural and periurban pockets in India’.

According to the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), air pollution was found to be the leading cause of mortality and disability in India. In Indian settings there is need reducing sources of emissions, improving access to clean fuel and raising public awareness on health effects of air pollution. Major risk factors are household and ambient air pollution contributing to burden of disease in India. • Household air pollution is caused by solid fuels like wood, charcoal, coal, dung, crop wastes are being used by over 3 billion people for cooking at home. These inefficient cooking methods lead to indoor air pollution especially in houses that are poorly ventilated. • Indoor air pollution not only has adverse health effects but also has adverse social and environmental effects.

• Household energy and Poverty: Poor households are unable to afford LPG and other cleaner fuels and reliance on inefficient fuels reduces the time they could spare for income generating activities and education. As a result, a vicious cycle of poverty leading to use of inefficient fuels and these in turn contributing to poverty starts • Gender issues: In most of the cases, women carry out the household chores and hence are the major sufferers of indoor air pollution. • Environmental impact and climate change: Reliance on wood for fuel leads to deforestation and consequent loss of habitat and diversity. The simple biomass and other fuels are inefficient and incomplete combustion takes place. The pollutants like black carbon and methane that are produced as a result of incomplete combustion leads to climate change.

Major health effects of indoor air pollution include acute lower respiratory infections, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), lung cancer, cardiovascular disease, burns Emerging evidence suggests that household air pollution in developing countries may also increase the risk conditions such as: low birth weight and perinatal mortality (still births and deaths in the first week of life), asthma, otitis media (middle ear infection) and other acute upper respiratory infections, tuberculosis, nasopharyngeal cancer, laryngeal cancer and cervical cancer. Considerable evidence suggests that exposure to air pollution leads to adverse respiratory outcomes. Perinatal exposure to air pollution can impair organogenesis and can lead to long term complications.

Exposure to air pollution during pregnancy has also been linked to decreased lung function in infancy and childhood, increased respiratory symptoms, and the development of childhood asthma.

The WHO’s Ambient Air Pollution database for 2016, showed that the levels of PM10 and PM 2.5 in Delhi are way above the normal levels. The annual PM 10 level was found to be 229 μg/m3 and that of PM 2.5 was found to be 112 μg/m3.

In a study conducted at Dept. of Community Medicine, Maulana Azad Medical College, New Delhi, India by Garg Suneela et al in 2016, a total of 3019 individuals were screened through spirometry. Of these, 34.35% were found to have lung impairment. Almost 32.5% of the individuals screened were from the age group of 41-50 years. More than half of the subjects (57.6%) had been living in Delhi for more than 20 years.

Initiatives taken by the government for combating the problem of air pollution • Stringent regulations, development of environmental standards, control of vehicular pollution, spatial environmental planning including industrial estates and preparation of zoning atlas. • Use public mode of transportation: Encourage people to use more and more public modes of transportation to reduce pollution. Use of carpooling. The odd/even rule wherein cars with odd-numbered registration plates would ply on odd dates and those with even-numbered registration plates would do so on even dates. • Conserve energy: Switch off fans and lights when you are going out. Large amount of fossil fuels are burnt to produce electricity. Ban on burning of waste and fine on emission of construction dust • Understand the concept of Reduce, Reuse and Recycle: Do not throw away items that are of no use to you. Reuse them for some other purpose. For e.g. you can use old jars to store cereals or pulses. • Emphasis on clean energy resources: Clean energy technologies like solar, wind and geothermal are on high these days. Governments of various countries have been providing grants to consumers who are interested in installing solar panels for their home. This will go a long way to curb air pollution. • Use energy efficient devices: CFL lights consume less electricity as against their counterparts. They live longer, consume less electricity, lower electricity bills and also help you to reduce pollution by consuming less energy. • So there is a urgent need for body like Indian Medical Association (IMA) and other CMAAO countries to address the problem of air pollution in India with the objectives of • Creating awareness on the burden of health effects of air pollution • Discussing main sources of air pollution in India (source apportioning) • Facilitate mitigating the health impacts of air pollution through private public partnership. • Examine preparedness and capacities of respective ministry to address the problem of air pollution emanating from development driven activities.

Thanks to Dr KK Aggarwal National President IMA & HCFI (Contributions from Dr R N Tandon HSG IMA and Dr Ajay Kumar, Advisor CMAAO


Attempted burning of precious mangroves thwarted in Dahisar

A major fire that destroyed around 50,000 sq feet of mangroves bordering Dahisar and Mira Road, which was reported late on Wednesday night by locals was extinguished on Thursday by the Mumbai Fire Brigade officials.


Alerted by the Forum and near by residents, Fire Brigade officials at the scene


Harish Pandey, President of New Link Road Resident Forum who has been fighting to save mangroves from land sharks said that he has already sent complaints via email to the State Mangrove Cell seeking a detailed enquiry as the fire clearly seemed to have been lit to clear land. “I also spoke to Assistant Municipal Commissioner BMC R/North Ward Vijay Kamble and he told me that he also has written to the Tehsildar office as well as the Dahisar Police station to conduct an enquiry into the fire,” said Pandey. He said that the mangroves in the area were extremely rich and highly threatened.

According to locals from NL Complex in Dahisar East from where the flames could be seen, at around 9.30pm the entire area was enveloped in thick smoke and it was then that people contacted the police and the fire brigade.

“We got a call at night from locals, but on reaching the site we realised that there was no way to reach the area as it was extremely dark. Our staff along with one fire engine and two water tankers reached the site on Thursday morning. We had to make our way through the mangroves with the help of BMC staff to reach the affected site,” said a fire official from Dahisar Fire Brigade. A fire engine from Mira Bhayander Municipal Corporation also reached the site.

According to a fire brigade official, they had to station the fire engine and water tankers at NL Complex and then pull the hose and pipes to about 600 meters inside the thick mangroves to reach the area that was engulfed in fire. “Our staff reached at around 10.35am on Thursday and managed to extinguish the fire till noon. The fire seemed to have affected an area of 50 X 1000 sq feet,” said the fire brigade official.

Local Councillor Sheetal Mhatre from Dahisar who reached the spot on Wednesday night said she suspected foul play and it seemed that the fire was started from the Mira Bhayander side. “We need equipment and facilities to fight such fires, otherwise the city might loose huge swathes of mangroves that can be easily be set on fire at night,” she said.


Mangrove Selfie Point. What’s the point?

Recently Dahisar was in the news for Mumbai’s and probably India’s first Mangrove Selfie Point which was the culmination of many years of tireless efforts at mangrove preservation by local citizen activists of Mumbai, and funds provided from the BMC Corporator Shri Avkash Jadhav. The local Corporator and the ex MLA were also present at this grand function on the 13th of June 2016, a week after World Environment Day.


Mangrove Information Kiosk


Mangrove Selfie Point


Inauguration of Mangrove Information Complex

But just a few metres away this is the scene that has been unfolding over the past few years.


In a span of a decade a lush green water body behind the now defunct Chef Hotel on the link Raod at Dahisar West has been reclaimed and used for non forest activities including sand cleaning, garages and bus parking.

Another area where now a Petrol Pump has also cropped up in CRZ is seen below, in Borivali, barely a kilometre away from the above spot.

2004 Zoom Behind Petrol Pump

The fields above are in CRZ-NDZ. This is in 2004. 

2009 Zoom Behind Petrol Pump

In 2009 huge amount of debris were dumped on these areas.

2016 Zoom Behind Petrol Pump

Now in 2016 you can see a huge area reclaimed, bus parking and the triangular area is the Petrol pump. 

Thanks to the PIL filed by New Link Road Residents Forum with supporting satellite images, now the culprits and their modus operandi is clear for everyone to see. Today there was a joint site visit by the Tehsildar, Talati, Police , BMC and our Forum. Let us await the outcome and action that follows.



Residents’ forum sets an example


Viju B | TNN

When morning walkers stroll along the vast mangrove stretches along the Gorai creek breathing clean air, they silently thank a local residents’ forum that fought hard to protect 400 acres of the coastal forests.

Two years ago, the New Link Road Residents’ Forum came to know that a builder was trying to dump debris under the pre text of repairing bunds in a salt pan where mangroves were present. When complaints with the local authorities did not stop the debris dumping, they moved court.
“We fought the case for two years, all the way to the Supreme Court. We produced
satellite maps and photo grap ev nce a builder had mangroves from all sides and constructed kutcha roads deep inside,” said Harish Pandey, a member of the forum
The Supreme Court directed the developer, Jayesh Shah of Ravi group, to open the bunds that blocked the entry of seawater to the mangroves. The court said the dumped debris was to be removed within 60 days and the original condition of the land—as it was in January 2010—restored.
“It was a huge victory for us We did not even have enough money to fight the case. The residents of Dahisar and I C Colony stood by us,” Pande said. “The members were threatened and their families had a harrowing time. But it was worth the effort. We feel that this struggle should be em ulated by every neighbourhood in the city.”
TOI first reported on the destruction of mangroves in the area years ago.

Mumbaiites, don’t save water; save the forests and rivers instead

Mumbaiites, don’t save water; save the forests and rivers instead, says Stalin D. of Vanashakti, on of the few people whom I know who know what they are talking about and who also do what is needed. Please read and pass on.

This is from the Hindustan Times 14th April 2016

Now that the IPL has managed to weather the symbolic challenge to it using the water crisis, it’s time for a reality check. Nothing makes my blood curdle more than hearing the slogan ‘save water’. In a land of rivers, with 400 perennial rivers, we talk of saving water. Compare it with a slogan from OPEC “Save Oil”. India gets its name from the Indus river. Abundant water was the only reason why India was invaded and why civilisations thrived. Today, when we talk of the empty slogan save water, it is a reflection of how we lap up every slogan from the west without questioning if it is applicable to our land.

Development is industrialisation and concretisation. Both need water. The question is whether to industrialise at the cost of drinking water or to provide drinking water for life to survive? The answer is not hard to decide. Not just industry, but excessive farming is also the reason. Farmers continue to endure decades of abuse and neglect thanks to the greed of politicians. The race between politicians to be at a par or above the other has led to this drought. In rain shadow regions, and in areas with less rainfall, farmers grow sugarcane to toe the line laid by politicians, who ensure it is the only crop that has a stable sale price. All other crops have been relegated to second place. An annual export of 2.43 million tonnes of sugar worth more than $1.1 billion has forced the sacrifice of drinking water. Farmers of other crops have been forced to expand farmlands into nearby forests to produce more so that they can survive the pit bottom prices that befall them when the crop is ready. Take a look at Google Earth Satellite imagery and one can see the ever-expanding kilometres of farm land. We are a surplus producer of food. We farm excessively so that the farmer may survive.

Government policies never focussed on protecting water sources, wetlands and water bodies. A case in point is the Ulhas River. This perennial river is the last resource of fresh water for the MMR.

Thanks to the development undertaken by corporations from Kalyan to Karjat, the river is dying. Lakhs of humans from Kalyan, Ambernath and Thane were supplied water from Shahad, which was contaminated with sewage disposal undertaken by the Ulhas Nagar Municipal Corporation and townships all the way up to the source in Karjat. The polluters were fined heavily and action was initiated by the National Green Tribunal (NGT). Sadly, the polluters got a stay order against the NGT order from the Bombay high court by citing lack of funds, among other reasons, to avoid payment of fines to restore the river.

Delayed decisions of the judiciary will continue to haunt mankind and prolong the present misery. Removal of the River Regulation Zone (RRZ) policy was another nail in the coffin for our rivers. It allowed industries to be set up anywhere near the river instead of the 500m-2km distance prescribed earlier. The ease of doing business is now equal to the ease of polluting the rivers and in turn defines growth.

Among the last remaining regions with a reasonably good amount of pure water is Konkan in Maharashtra.

The government has decided to protect this region in a unique way — by allowing rubber plantations to replace primary forests and by proposing a chemical zone in the Konkan.

Don’t save water, save your forests and rivers. No forests, no water —plain and simple.

For IPL its business as usual. It is time to go back to our daily routine of ignorance and indifference. Close the tap while brushing and pat yourself on the back.

Now you the reader has a choice. Ignore this message, or do what you know has to be done. It is not going to be easy either way, and you know it.

All the best. God save India.

Esselworld caught in land grab crime

This movie will surely shock you, as well as the perpetrators of this crime. Notice how they have started grabbing land outside their Amusement Park since 2014?

Shot over a ten year period, this shows a classic case of the criminals thinking no one was watching them as they slowly started encoraching on wetlands in Gorai in North Mumbai

2,000 trees hacked in mangrove patch at Borivali at Dharma Nagar

2,000 trees hacked in mangrove patch at Borivli

Trees were chopped with machines, residents blame administration’s apathy

MUMBAI: In the third case of mangrove destruction reported within 15 days, around 2,000 trees were hacked on a wetland spread over two-and-a-half-acres in Dharma Nagar, Borivli (West). Locals, mainly from the New Link Road Residents Forum, after trudging into the marshy area and taking pictures [see below] approached the police on Monday, who visited the spot and drew up a panchnama.

MUMBAI: In the third case of mangrove destruction reported within 15 days, around 2,000 trees were hacked on a wetland spread over two and a half acres in Dharma Nagar, Borivli (West).

Locals approached the police on Monday, after which they visited the spot and drew up a panchnama.

“We visited the site and took pictures of the area. Based on our investigations, an intimation will be made to the tehsildar’s office and further investigations will be taken up,” said Ashok Sawant, inspector, MHB police station, Borivli.

New Link Road Residents’ Forum ( NLRRF), a citizens group, was conducting a nature trail in the area, close to the Gorai creek, when they stumbled upon the destroyed mangroves.

HT visited the spot on Monday and found the branches of the trees were finely cut, which can only be possible with the use of heavy machinery.


“Mechanical saws have been used to chop the entire patch of mangroves within a span of a few hours. This was done probably around a month ago, for construction purposes,” said Harish Pandey, the secretary of NLRF.

“This is the biggest incident of mangrove destruction in the past couple of years. Our slow criminal justice system and indifferent administrative authorities are responsible for such blatant violations of environmental regulations,” he said.

The tehsildar office will send officials to the spot on Tuesday, Prashanti Mane, tehsildar, Borivli taluka, said. “Local residents have informed us about the tree hacking. Along with officials from the mangrove cell, our circle officer will visit the site on Tuesday,” he said.

The state mangrove cell said officials will be sent to the spot to verify whether the area falls under forestland, public property or is privately owned. “On the basis of our investigation, we will take strict action against those destroying the t rees,” said N Vasudevan, chief conservator of forests mangrove cell, Mumbai.

In 2005, the Bombay HC had banned all construction within 50 metres of mangroves. 5 May 2015Hindustan Times (Mumbai)Badri Chatterjee