A citizen-led study to ascertain air quality in Dahanu, Maharashtra revealed severe levels of air pollution that the Eco-Fragile region is impacted with. A total of 12 locations were sampled, out of which all recorded “Hazardous”, “Very Unhealthy” and “Unhealthy” levels of PM2.5. Heavy metals/trace elements such as Silica, Manganese, and Nickel which contribute to respiratory disorders, compromised immunity, and affect neurobehavioral functions were found exposed in it.
To read the complete report, click below:
It began when a group of Chikoo growers approached DTEWA (Dahanu Taluka Environment Welfare Association), complaining about the blackening of Chikoo fruit and premature loss of crop affecting the whole of Dahanu. They reported that Chikoo productivity has reduced by half in the last decades due to this black fungal disease caused by pollution. DTEWA in-turn requested Healthy Energy Initiative – India (HEI-India) to probe into the matter and conduct a study.
Taking cognizance of this widespread impact on farmers, we decided to conduct this study to find a correlation between environmental pollution and Agri-yield loss” said Raajeev Laamba of DTEWA. The increasing density of industries around Dahanu, that includes the Adani-Dahanu Thermal Power Project, industrial clusters in the north and south, construction of roadways and rail corridors, and increasing concrete built-up area – all of their impacts culminate into the disastrous state of air pollution in the region.
“The data from the air pollution monitoring conducted in Dahanu, Maharashtra gives urgent cause for worry. The level of particulate matter (PM2.5) was found to be extremely high across the sampling sites as compared to both Indian (NAAQS) and international standards (US EPA). This, in combination with hazardous levels of silica dust, would compromise the respiratory and cardiovascular health of the population in this area, more so if the pollution continues unabated.” Said Dr. Adithya Pradyumna, a public health specialist and faculty member of Azim Premji University. “It is also important to improve access to healthcare for the local people. This includes well-functioning primary health centres and community health outreach, and also accessible higher-level care for non-communicable diseases such as cardiovascular and respiratory diseases”, he added.
Dahanu is a rich with unique environmental features like coastal creeks, mangroves, hills, forests, rivers, streams, and ponds. It is considered the ‘food bowl’ of this region as it produces multiple tons of Chikoos (Manilkara zapota), guavas, mangoes, coconuts, seafood, vegetables including chilies and capsicums, fodders, spider lilies, and salt. No wonder Dahanu is also known as the ‘fruit and flower basket’ of Maharashtra and Gujarat. However, since the advent of industrial activities in the region, the productivity of horticulture and fishing has drastically reduced.
“Since 2002, as the quality of Chikoo has been reduced, the market value has also declined for our fruits. In 2006, Flue Gas Desulphurization (FGD) was set up in TPP. After which the yield improved only for a couple of years and again the productivity decreased later.” Said a Chikoo Farmer aged 42 years who was part of the study.
The results of the present study evidently show that the currently prevailing obnoxious levels of air pollution in Dahanu have severely impacted the health and well-being of the environment and local residents. The study recommends a few crucial measures to be taken, which include:
- The need for a moratorium on expansion and setting up of new industries in the area
- Pan-region real-time air quality monitoring
- Public health advisories, and warnings
- Enforcement of stringent regulations on polluting industries.
- An assessment of the adequacy and preparedness of health facilities to be carried out, followed by addressing any gaps that are found.
- Investigation into the damage to horticulture productivity and necessary compensation/subsidies must also be provided
- Proactive measures to phase out and decommission the ageing, ailing and polluting Adani-Dahanu Thermal Power Station
To read the complete report, click below: