BMC to install nets at stormwater outfalls to prevent solid waste from entering sea

Published on Feb 13, 2022 07:53 PM IST

There are at least 85 such outfalls across the city transporting sewage and solid waste into the Arabian Sea.

The BMC was directed to take this step in November last year by the National Green Tribunal (NGT) (AFP)
The BMC was directed to take this step in November last year by the National Green Tribunal (NGT) (AFP)
ByPrayag Arora-Desai

Mumbai: Ahead of Supreme Court hearing on February 17 over the discharge of untreated sewage into the city’s creeks, drains and rivers, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) on Saturday floated a tender to install floating pollutant traps, or trash nets, at various stormwater drain outfalls in the city to prevent the flow of solid waste into the sea.

There are at least 85 such outfalls across the city transporting sewage and solid waste into the Arabian Sea. Officials said that nets will be cleaned regularly through labourers of appointed contractual agencies which carry out desilting works.

The BMC was directed to take this step in November last year by the National Green Tribunal (NGT), which also directed it to deposit within three months a penalty of 28.20 crore with the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) for discharging raw sewage into the city creeks, rivers and drains.

In October 2020, the NGT had first slapped a fine of 29.75 crore over the same violations, which are yet to be paid by the BMC.

The NGT’s November 2021 order is subject to pending orders of the Supreme Court.

The BMC had filed a civil appeal before the Supreme Court in March last year, seeking a stay on the NGT’s October 2020 directions. The civic body had also attempted to stay a subsequent execution application that Vanashakti filed before NGT in June, after observing little action by the municipality toward complying with the Tribunal’s orders.

The SC however not only allowed Vanashakti’s execution application to proceed but clarified that the municipal commissioner himself will have to satisfy the NGT of compliance with its directions.

Stalin D, director of Vanashakti, said, “Installation of nets is a simple, cost-effective solution to prevent our waste from entering the ocean and getting deposited along the shore, but the BMC has not acted on it despite us suggesting it on record multiple times since 2016. This is a good step, and we hope that the BMC will continue to act on its responsibility in the matter. We are grateful to the SC for showing strictness. It has made a difference.”

The Supreme Court on February 1 rapped the BMC for the delay in establishment sewage treatment plants (STPs) along with a sewer network to prevent the discharge of untreated effluents into water bodies and the sea.

“We are thoroughly dissatisfied with what the MCGM has done so far. If the state government and the municipal corporation are serious, then they will do it. Otherwise, they can keep dragging their feet forever which is evident from issuance, cancellation and reissuing of tenders for the STPs,” said a bench led by Justice DY Chandrachud.

The SC had also warned that it would consider taking coercive action against the MCGM and responsible authorities if they do not provide concrete timelines for completion of the work on the next date of the hearing.

“Against NGT orders, you have the Supreme Court to appeal. But against SC orders you have no remedy but to come back to us,” the bench had remarked.

BMC officials declined to comment, saying they will present their submissions directly before the Supreme Court this week.

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