Mumbai's largest treatment plant, which treats raw water from four dams before supplying it to citizens’ homes, has not been upgraded even once in 30 years.
Ever since it was set up in 1985, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has been unable to improve the water purification technology used in the plant.
In the light of HT’s report on Vaitrana river water being chemically contaminated, this raises serious questions on the quality of water supplied to 17 lakh households, in the western suburbs and the island city.
Civic officials admitted the plant is equipped to treat bacteria and other harmful virus, but cannot treat chemically contaminated water.
Watch: How the municipal council may be contaminating drinking water in Mumbai
“In the past 30 years, water purifying technology has advanced a lot, but the civic body has been unable to update the filtration process at Bhandup,” said an official who did not wish to be named.
Additional municipal commissioner Sanjay Mukherjee, who heads the water department, said, “We are looking into how the treatment plant can be upgraded. There is a new plant under construction [in the same complex] that can take care of water purification while this one is revamped. However, the process has to be worked out.”
Mukherjee insisted the city receives the purest form of water.
Apart from the outdated purification process, the BMC does not test samples for contamination at the source, either.
AS Tawadia, hydraulic engineer, said, “Since water sources are located in dense forest, there was no need for testing samples at the location.”
What is more worrying, even the new treatment plant coming up in the Bhandup complex does not have an advanced system to treat chemicals. It will only reduce the time period of treating the water, said an official.
“There are challenges in revamping the 30-year-old plant. It treats 1,910 million litres of water every day. This water will have to be diverted to another plant, which is still not functional. Hence, the plant could not be revamped” said an official on condition of anonymity.
Environmentalists and activists slammed the BMC for its lackadaisical attitude.
Anjana Pant, biologist and water treatment expert said, “It is alarming that the treatment plant has not been upgraded in 30 years. When such plants are constructed, an alternate set-up needs to be in place for when they are repaired. This is absent in Mumbai.”