Mumbai issues guidelines to construction industry amid worsening air quality

MUMBAI (Reuters) – India’s financial capital of Mumbai has asked construction sites to use barricades and banned the burning of garbage in open grounds in a bid to combat worsening air quality, according to a government notification on Wednesday.

The move comes two days after Swiss group IQAir rated Mumbai with an air quality index (AQI) of 160, making it the second most polluted city in the world on Monday, second only to China’s Beijing. A score between 151-200 is classed as ‘unhealthy’, while a score below 100 is ‘healthy’.

Among the guidelines released on Wednesday by Mumbai’s Brihanmumbai Municipal Corp (BMC), construction sites in the city were asked to erect barricades at buiding sites of up to 35-feet (10.67 m) using tin or metal sheets, or enclose the sites with tarpaulin.

The BMC also said it would monitor air pollution emitted from plants belonging to state owned refiners like Bharat Petroleum Corp and Hindustan Petroleum Corp, as well as privately owned Tata Power, all of whom have plants in Mumbai.

Mumbai recorded an AQI of 157 on Wednesday, according to India’s Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), giving it a rating of “moderate”.

New Delhi, which has been rated the world’s most polluted capital by IQAir for consecutive years, recorded an AQI of 243 and is rated as “poor” by the CPCB.

Mumbai and New Delhi are host cities for the Cricket World Cup, which is currently under way. Although the tournament has so far remained unaffected by the prevailing pollution, cricketers have flagged the problem.

“I’ve played in hotter conditions, and probably more humid conditions, but it just felt like you couldn’t get your breath,” England’s Joe Root told British media on Monday, a day after his team lost by 229 runs to South Africa in Mumbai.

Pollution is a growing problem in India, whose capital is engulfed by a thick layer of smog every winter as cold, heavy air traps vehicle emissions, smoke, and dust, leaving some of its residents struggling to breathe.

For the coastal city of Mumbai, however, this is a recent phenomenon. Last year, Mumbai recorded air quality worse than that of New Delhi on at least one day in December.

(Reporting by Shilpa Jamkhandikar in Mumbai and Sakshi Dayal in New Delhi; Editing by Mike Harrison)