Mumbai: Civic contractor dumps raw sewage in Bhandup salt lakes, green activist seeks action
An environmentalist, associated with a city-based NGO, on Monday, wrote to the civic authorities, including the collector (Mumbai suburban), the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) and the forest department’s mangrove cell, alleging unauthorised dumping of raw sewage into salt lakes in Bhandup, by a civic contractor.
D Stalin, director of NGO Vanashakti, provided pictures and videos of the alleged violations, along with the GPS coordinates pinpointing at the location (along a service road in Nahur, East). He also highlighted the construction of a tarred road in the area, which is hindering the flow of intertidal water to nearby mangroves.
The road has been constructed by a contractor to facilitate the installation of new sewer lines in the area, and that wastewater from existing sewers is being pumped out for the same purpose. This, despite, the site’s proximity to the nearby Bhandup sewage-treatment plant.
Stalin’s letter (a copy of which is with Hindustan Times), said, “While the work is needed for better sewage collection and treatment, the method employed here, as seen in the video, is to pump the sewage into the intertidal salt lakes. The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has a sewage treatment plant less than 2kms away. The sewage could have been easily transported by tankers.”
“This act of pumping raw sewage into the salt lakes and polluting it is an offence. Please take action and direct the civic body to proceed in a proper non-polluting manner,” Stalin wrote, adding that these water bodies are fishing grounds for coastal communities and also provide wetland habitat for birds.
“The BMC contractor informed that the salt department has permitted the work but that does not mean that environmental laws can be violated... all work must be done in a manner that does not block tidal water or threaten coastal water bodies,” Stalin’s letter goes on to state.
P Velrasu, additional municipal commissioner (projects), BMC, could not be contacted on Monday despite multiple attempts. Virender Tiwari, the additional principal chief conservator of forests, also did not respond to messages seeking comment on the issue.
An official with the revenue department, however, on the condition of anonymity, confirmed that they have taken cognisance of some of these violations.
“We have visited the site and noted dumping of debris in the salt lake, which has been tarred over to make an access road by the contractor. We permitted laying new sewer lines in Bhandup, but not to reclaim water bodies. We will seek a written undertaking from the BMC that the road will be removed once work is complete,” said the official, who did not directly comment on the dumping of raw sewage into the salt lake.