The bad news is, some of your drinking water comes from rivers that have been classified “critically polluted”. The good news is, the government intends to do something about it.
Nudged by the Ministry of Forests and Environment (MoEF), the government is planning to set up a State River Conservation Authority, which will monitor Maharashtra’s 20 river basins to reduce pollution from industrial effluents and untreated sewage.
Of the 20, 15 have been designated as polluted by a Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) study in 2003. Only 18 per cent of sewage in the state is treated, the remaining 82 per cent is simply dumped into a range of water bodies.
While the city gets water that is treated, there is little check on chemical pollution from industrial effluents.
The planned river authority will oversee conservation plans for different river basins on the lines of the Ganga and Yamuna action plan. Of the critically polluted rivers such as the Ulhas, Patalganga, Godavari and Tapi, one will be taken up on a priority basis to start with.
“The MoEF has asked all states to set up a river conservation authority. The idea is to protect the entire stretch of a river instead of doing piecemeal projects,” said Valsa Nair Singh, environment secretary.
The new agency will be able to direct resources to set up sewage treatment plants (STPs), monitor industrial pollution, and take up low-cost sanitation projects to prevent open defecation on riverbanks, as well as riverfront development projects.
It can also monitor the performance of existing STPs, many of which need upgradation.
“Most of our discharged sewage is untreated. Our priority is to set up STPs, preferably along riverbanks, to avoid direct dumping into rivers. This agency will be headed by the chief minister,” said environment minister Suresh Shetty.
The Environment Department is targeting a treated sewage rate of 100 per cent from the current 18 per cent by 2014.