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Making Kolkata cleaner and climate-resilient mayor Firhad Hakim’s new year resolution

Water body census to be completed this year and assessee numbers would be issued to prevent filling up

The Plurals News Network | Published 01.01.24, 01:39 PM
KMC has found 432 ponds in ward numbers 133 to 141 of Garden Reach in its preliminary survey

KMC has found 432 ponds in ward numbers 133 to 141 of Garden Reach in its preliminary survey

iStock photograph

Less polluted, more climate-resilient and a better aware Kolkata is city mayor Firhad Hakim’s resolution for the New Year.

In an exclusive interview with The Plurals on Sunday, Hakim, who is also the West Bengal urban development minister and one of the frontline leaders in the ruling Trinamul Congress, said improving Kolkata’s air quality was a priority for him in 2024.


“Kolkata’s air quality is still quite poor, especially in winter. We need to improve that for the sake of our next generation. Since becoming the mayor last time, I am trying to prioritise the environmental issues as civil governance is no more about only roads, water, and housing,” said Hakim, admitting that the city’s environment has changed enormously since his childhood.

Though Kolkata air quality has marginally improved in recent years, it remains significantly above the permissible national limit and critically impacts the health of its residents as found in several recent studies that show one out of every four city resident suffers from respiratory ailments with the severe asthma with teenagers of Kolkata being highest among major cities.

An analysis, prepared by environment think tank Climate Trends on Sunday, shows that Kolkata’s average PM 2.5 concentration during 2023 stands at 50 micrograms per cubic metre; marginally improved from 53.8 micrograms in 2022 but 25 per cent above the national annual limit of 40 micrograms for the pollutant. PM 2.5 is considered the most toxic pollutant as it can penetrate deep into the lungs and trigger a range of diseases including the fatal ones.

Water body details to come in public domain

Hakim has also stressed on stopping the filling up of water bodies in the city as a major goal in next year. “Already we have started a census of the water bodies in the city involving multiple departments and plan to allot an assessment number to each of the water body like land plots.”

“In Garden Reach, stretching from ward numbers 133 to 141, we have found 432 ponds in the preliminary survey, which are being assessed for providing separate digital code and premises number with area. We will do it for the entire city, integrate those with KMC map; and make them available in the public domain so that water body filling can be stopped,” added the mayor.

“I cannot deny that environmental violations are still happening in the city but we are trying to act. We, at KMC, are trying to chase every complaint and I personally have asked the police to act immediately,” said the official.

City climate action plan in the pipeline

Hakim also emphasised on the actions to counter climate change in the city during 2024. “I sincerely believe that air pollution and climate change have become a major curse for the city. We should not want to leave a city for the next generation where they will have money but not fresh air to breathe.”

“Working on climate change is a priority in this era of ever-increasing climatic impacts. We have already initiated the process of preparing a comprehensive Kolkata Climate Action Plan involving experts across the country and expect to complete it within a few months. Once that is done, we will start the implementation involving all,” said the mayor.

Hakim explained how number of cyclones have impacted the city critically in recent times and several international reports have clearly underlined how it would become even worse in future unless the city starts to act now, “there are also lessons from the recent climate summit at Dubai and we are trying to imbibe all in our planning for the future of the city.”

“But to implement all these, we need people to be more aware about the critical issues. Still, we are throwing garbage wherever we want, burning plastic, generating dust, wasting water … all these need to be stopped. We also would like to see that all construction and demolition waste should go to the dedicated plant that we have created,” stated the mayor, adding that administrative actions and people’s awareness should go hand in hand to counter the problems.

Hakim also identified demolition of illegal buildings across the city as one of the priorities in 2024.

Last updated on 01.01.24, 01:49 PM

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