Going green: After Mumbai ranks as most-polluted city, FM Nirmala Sitharaman seeks industry solutions for cleanup | The Financial Express

Going green: After Mumbai ranks as most-polluted city, FM Nirmala Sitharaman seeks industry solutions for cleanup

The finance minister points out that some states are ‘rather slow’ in responding to sustainability initiatives and calls for better urban planning.

Nirmala Sitharaman finance minister
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman at a post-budget discussion with industry stakeholders in Mumbai (Photo: PIB India)

At a post-budget interaction with various Indian industry leaders and stakeholders in Mumbai on Saturday, Finance Minster Nirmala Sitharaman commented on the issue of India’s polluted cities and initiatives to be taken up to clean them up. Sitharaman’s comments come at a time when Mumbai has been experiencing alarming levels of pollution, despite it being a coastal city with the advantage of sea breeze to clear the air. 

The finance minister in response to a question by Indian Express Group executive director and co-chair of FICCI Maharashtra, Anant Goenka, on what can be done to convince industries to adopt more renewable energy, said that the Union Budget 2023 talks about not just transitioning from fossil fuel to renewable energy, but it also talks about effective waste management in cities. The finance minister said that states need to play a larger role in urban planning. 

“When it comes to the question of state borrowing limits, on which the centre has the right to broadly direct, borrowing has been to a minuscule extent, and it’s linked with performance in reforms which includes overall urban planning, waste management and so on. Some states are very good in responding, taking it as an opportunity to clean up and give better a give a better environment. But many others don’t respond. I don’t attribute any malafide intention, but sometimes they are rather slow in responding to it. They think it’s a big burden on them,” Sitharaman said. 

Also read: Mumbai’s 48-hour air emergency ends! City’s AQI gets better; Worli, BKC, Borivali show improvement

The finance minister quoted an example of how some cities have successfully managed to set up effluent treatment plants, like Erode in Tamil Nadu, where the Bhavani river was highly polluted by cloth dying units a few years ago. Sustained efforts to divert and treat effluents have led to a clean-up of the river, the minister claimed. 

She also encouraged industry leaders to mobilise and form clusters to treat waste in cities like Mumbai and come up with solutions. “Mumbai deserves to have better,” she said. 

Action plan for Mumbai

The finance minister’s statement at the gathering coincides with the presentation of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s (BMC) Rs 52,619.07 crore budget presentation for the year 2023-24. The BMC budget has taken up air quality as a key issue and has outlined an action plan. 

Last week, chief minister Eknath Shinde asked the BMC to set up air-purifier towers in Mumbai as the city has been seeing poor air quality since November. The city will get 19 air purification units, which include 14 smog towers in densely populated and high-traffic areas. The city will also be inducting 3,400 electric buses by the end of the year, with a plan to double the number the next year. Besides that, the BMC will constantly monitor pollution hotspots around power plants and refineries.

Get live Share Market updates and latest India News and business news on Financial Express. Download Financial Express App for latest business news.

First published on: 04-02-2023 at 22:48 IST