Mundhwa jackwell: Veggies on your plate grown in sewage water?
The fresh vegetables and fruits which turn up on your plate could be grown from the untreated sewage wastewater released from across the city to the irrigation fields on the outskirts of Pune. The mixing of untreated water with treated water at the Mundhwa jackwell is leading to frothing and foul smell in the water which is eventually used for irrigation and potable purposes by the nearby villages.
The areas which are connected through these canals are Mundhwa, Hadapsar, Vitthalnagar, Shewalewadi, Phursungi, Kunjirwadi, Sortapwadi, Uruli Kanchan, Sahajpur, Khamgaon, Kasurdi, Yewat and Khutbav.
Pradeep Chaudhari, a farmer from Sortapwadi, who depends on the water from the canal, said, “Last year we faced drought and had no option but to depend on this untreated water. We see the effects of this untreated water on flowers and vegetables and only sugarcane can be grown with this polluted water. Also, the walls of the canal are not strong enough which leads to contamination of this water with our wells and borewells which we use for drinking purposes.” Chaudhari said that it is leading to health issues like vomiting, illness and stomach aches in the village.
A Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) corporator, Yogesh Sasane, who has been raising the issue in the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) general body, said, “The issue at the baby canal and Hadapsar 17/2 nullah at Hadapsar has been consistent since 2015 since the Mudhwa sewage treatment plant (STP) started operating. The water is frothy and stinks leading to health issues; more importantly, this same water is used for irrigation purposes by all the villages which rely on this canal water.”
“The civic body spends crores of rupees in treating water which eventually gets mixed with untreated water and hence all that money is gone down the drain,” he said.
Rahul Shevale, who filed a case in the National Green Tribunal (NGT) regarding the same, said, “There are four cantonment boards, two civic bodies and industrial areas which are party to the case. The untreated water is released for irrigation and despite penalty by the NGT the issue continues.”
Shantanu Goel, additional municipal commissioner, said, “We are short of sewage treatment plants and are working on it through Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) project. PMC currently has ten STPs and we need 11 more. However, it is true that the water is getting mixed and we are finding a way to separate the treated water with untreated water.”
VJ Kulkarni, head of the hydraulic department, said, “The civic body will now start mixing chlorine dioxide in the water for purification, as earlier, mixing chlorine leads to the formation of chloramines which is dangerous. We have already started this at a few of our STPs and now we will start this in the Mundhwa plant too.”
“We also need to find a way to separate the untreated water from treated water which can be done by building pipes connecting all drainage outlets to STPs which will cost the civic body over Rs 100 crore. We have many unauthorised contributors which include housing societies in gram panchayats and also industries that directly release sewage water into the canals,” said Kulkarni
Kulkarni said the implementation of 24X7 water supply will bring down the consumption of water by cutting down on waste, and therefore the sewage will also go down.