Mumbai’s air becoming more foul -- industrial clusters could be a major culprit, says new CSE analysis

CSE study assesses pollution contribution from four major clusters -- Trans-Thane Creek (TTC), Taloja, Ambernath and Dombivali 

Massive coal use in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR) could be a key reason for the deteriorating air quality – every year, 2 million tonnes of coal is burnt here 

Study finds TTC to be the leading pollution hotspot, contributing about 44 per cent of the total load. Dombivali residents have been found suffer the maximum exposure to pollution 

Clean fuel policy is the need of the hour for Mumbai – say CSE experts. Inaction may lead to Mumbai’s air turningas toxic as Delhi’s, they warn 

To access the CSE study Click here

New Delhi, February 15, 2021: Use of coal in industries of the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR) might be a major factor affecting the air quality of Mumbai and its surrounding areas -- finds a new research by Centre for Science and Environment (CSE). The study has analysed and estimated the air pollution load from various industrial sectors in the major industrial areas of MMR. 

The study was released here today at a webinar organised by CSE, which was addressed by some key experts (besides CSE researchers): Dr V M Motghare, joint director (air pollution control), Maharashtra State Pollution Control Board; S B Patil, advisor, Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation; Rajiv Aundhe, industry expert; and SachinGhuge, chief manager-HSE, Mahanagar Gas Ltd. 

For the webinar proceedings Click here

Out of the 13 industrial areas bordering Mumbai, CSE has done an in-depth assessment of four – Trans-Thane Creek (TTC), Taloja, Ambernath and Dombivali.These four areas cover about 70 percent of the industries operating in the MMR. 

Apart from this, an indicative ambient air quality monitoring for particulate matter was also conducted in all the industrial areas. This monitoring was designed to capture local exposure. 

Out of the four regions studied, TTC was found to be a major pollution hotspot contributing about 44 percent of the total load from the studied areas;the Taloja Industrial Area followed, with a contribution of about 26 percent. 

“Mumbai is a coastal region and is, hence, not expected to have very high levels of pollution. But with rapid industrial and infrastructural development, the air quality of the region has started deteriorating. The city needs to wake up and take corrective actions, to avoid turning into a pollution pressure-cooker like Delhi,” says Nivit Kumar Yadav, programme director, industrial pollution unit, CSE. 

What did the CSE study find?

The study has assessed the polluting industries of the region using information related to type of fuel, its consumption, type of combustion equipment etc. The key findings of the report are: 

Medium and small-scale enterprises (MSMEs) are a major contributor to the pollution: The Comprehensive Environment Pollution Index (CEPI) assessments have identified three locations in the MMR as ‘critically polluted areas’ -- Chembur, Dombivali and Navi Mumbai. However, the CSE study finds that emissions from these units are controlled as the norms for large industrial sectors are more stringent compared to that for MSMEs. 

The TTC industrial cluster is the most polluting of all: The TTC accounts for about 44 per cent of the total industrial pollution load of the four areas studied by CSE. “The reasons behind the high pollution levels could be the use of dirty fuels like coal and furnace oil,” says Yadav. The TTC industrial area has the highest consumption of coal, accounting for nearly 60 percent of the coal consumed in the areas studied. 

MMR’s chemical industries sector is a major polluter:The chemical sector has the highest contribution in the pollution load (nearly 72 per cent) in this region. It is a fuel-intensive industry – with total usage of all types of fuel ranging at about 3.1 million tonnes per annum. 

Dombivaliresidents suffer the maximum exposure to pollution: CSE’s indicative monitoring of particulate matter, designed to capture local exposure, found that the Patalganga industrial area in Navi Mumbai (near Panvel) has the lowest exposure, whereas Dombivali has the highest. Poor road infrastructure, high levels of uncontrolled pollution from the surrounding industries, etc could be the reasonsfor Dombivali’s high PM content in its air. 

So what is the way ahead?

Against the backdrop of the challenges outlined for the industrial sector, CSE has developed a comprehensive action plan for the MMR. The highlights: 

Ban coal use, bring clean fuel policy: Considering the scale of dirty fuel usage in MMR’s industrial areas, expedite the fuel shift in industries from conventional polluting fuel (coal, furnace oil, etc) to cleaner and non-polluting fuel (PNG, electricity etc).Introduce a policy to incentivise use of clean fuel. For instance, cleaner fuels like biomass and natural gas need to be less expensive. Removal of VAT on natural gas and inclusion of natural gas under GST would be positive steps. 

Strengthen air quality monitoring and deterrence systems: Continuous monitoring of VOCs in the ambient air is a must in the industrial areas where chemical industries are predominant. Develop an air toxics emissions inventory and control plan for the MMR region. Identify and monitor toxics, as well as assess health risk through exposure modeling. Develop sector-specific pollution assessment study for chemical industries for pollution abatement. A unique strategy of cross-regional inspection as already devised and implemented by the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board(MPCB) in Talojacan be replicated in other regions. Inspection of industries should be done by MPCB officersdrawn from other regions. Create a mechanism for penalties for the MSME sector for not installing and using air pollution control devices. 

Improve infrastructure and technology use: Maintain infrastructure and conduct need assessments for development of roads and drainage lines. Provide subsidies for purchase of air pollution control devices (APCD), particularly for small- and medium-scale units. Explore the possibility of a common solvent recovery plant in chemical clusters, and common steam generation units for industrial cluster. 

Modify criteria to push unclean industry out of city limits: Modify non-attainment criteria for cities where industries are located within the city limits. Policy-level intervention is needed in siting of upcoming industrial areas to ensure the presence of adequate buffer zones along the periphery of the industrial areas, so as to clearly demarcate the boundaries of residential and industrial areas.

For any other details, please contact Sukanya Nair of The CSE Media Resource Centre,, 8816818864.