Quality check of Ulhas river a farce: RTI
The Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) does not maintain a field visit notebook, a field data protocol or even a result sheet after sampling water from the Ulhas river, reveals a Right to Information (RTI) query on the river’s water monitoring system.
As per guidelines by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) for water monitoring, the three records are needed to monitor the water quality. However, the MPCB is not following the guidelines, said activists.
As per the CPCB, a field visit notebook contains a list of items which should be checked before starting on a sampling mission; a field data protocol is a form where details of the sampling exercise and site analysis can be filled, and result sheets, containing analytical results, have to be sent with each series of sample containers being sent to the analytical laboratory.
“The pollution board should fill all these forms as they are a crucial part of the monitoring process. The forms will have details of the water sample collected. The RTI query put up by me reveals that the pollution board does not maintain any such forms or records,” said Ravindra Lingayat, founder of Ulhas river Bachao Kruti Samiti.
When the RTI plea asked MPCB to produce records of field visit notebooks maintained for four sampling stations between January to November this year, the board said no such notebook was filled at the sampling stations.
To another query for furnishing details of records maintained for field data protocol form, the board replied no such form was filled.
MPCB also revealed that no result sheet was maintained when the sample was sent for testing.
“The MPCB website claims that the water quality is excellent at the four sampling stations of Ulhasnagar. Don’t know how the results are good because officials are not doing the monitoring work effectively. People living around the Ulhas river know that the water is polluted. Only the pollution control board claims that the water quality is good,” added Lingayat.
The activists also claimed that the pollution control board collects samples for monitoring only from four regular spots of the Ulhas river, and not from those spots where the river is actually polluted.
The four spots are Kalyan creek near Durgadi bridge in Kalyan (West), Jambul stream, Badlapur and NRC bund.
“Ulhas river which crosses different cities is polluted at various points due to sewage disposal, industrial waste, jeans washing and other activities. Officials should collect samples from all such areas to get proper results,” added Lingayat.
Members of the Ulhas river Bachao Kruti Samiti have also threatened to protest against the lackadaisical approach of the pollution board by gifting the water from the river to the family members of the MPCB officials.
Regional officer of MPCB, Kalyan Shankar Waghmare was not available for comment.
An officer from MPCB, on condition of anonymity, said, “Water monitoring is done following all the basic guidelines by the CPCB. If there is any flaw in the process, the CPCB will take action against MPCB. The sampling and test details are sent to the central body for records.”
Earlier, a report from the Thane district public health laboratory in April revealed that the Waldhuni and Ulhas rivers are highly polluted and their water is unfit for drinking.
In the report, it was stated that turbidity, chlorides, hardness and dissolved solids were many times above the safety standards while the pH level was acidic. The river water has chemicals and needs to be critically analysed, added the report.
Ulhas river supplies drinking water to more than 30 lakh residents in Ulhasnagar, Thane, Kalyan, Badlapur and Dombivli.