Hopefully for the city, the government’s amended river policy will mean safer drinking water. The state environment department has decided to make its river policy more stringent – so tourism related activities along the banks of rivers like Bhatsa could be banned.
Around 60% of Bhatsa’s water comes to Mumbai and it is categorised as an A1 river because of this.
The environment department resolution issued on June 13 states that no establishments, including hotels, resorts or water sports facilities will be allowed along the stretch of such A1 rivers.
The 2009 river policy had restricted all new industrial activity along A1 rivers to reduce water pollution. However, resorts and hotels were permissible with certain riders like compulsory reuse and recycling of water.
“There have been instances of misuse of this exemption and even such tourism related units were discharging untreated waste directly into the river adding to water pollution,” said Valsa Nair Singh, secretary, environment department.
The government resolution (GR) points out that many A1 rivers directly supply water to surrounding areas that consume it without treatment. “This can adversely affect the health of people especially in rural areas. Legislators had also raised this question in the assembly,” the GR stated.
Existing industrial units along such river basins have been given a deadline of three years to achieve zero discharge.
Effluent discharge by industries along the rivers has been a major concern for river basins that cater to drinking water needs of residents.
However, there is no change in rivers categorised as A2 (fit for public consumption but requiring treatment) A3 and A4 (not fit for public water supply). For instance, river Ulhas that supplies water to Badlapur and Kalyan falls in the A2 category.