Mumbai: Raw sewage dumping in Bhandup salt lakes, environmentalist seeks action
- The road, HT learned, has been constructed by a contractor to facilitate the installation of new sewer lines, for which wastewater from existing sewers is being pumped out in the salt lakes.
A Mumbai-based environmentalist has alleged unauthorised dumping of raw sewage into salt lakes in Bhandup by a civic contractor and provided pictures and videos of the alleged violations, with GPS coordinates pinpointing their location (along a service road in Nahur East), highlighting the construction of a tarred road, hindering the flow of intertidal water to nearby mangroves.
"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 Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM) has a sewage treatment plant less than 2kms away. The sewage could have been easily transported by tankers," said D Stalin, director of NGO Vanashakti, in his written complaint to the Mumbai suburban collector, the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board and the forest department's mangrove cell on Monday.
The road, HT learned, has been constructed by a contractor to facilitate the installation of new sewer lines, for which wastewater from existing sewers is being pumped out in the salt lakes despite its close proximity to Bhandup sewage-treatment plant.
"This act of pumping raw sewage into the salt lakes and polluting it is an offence. Please take action and direct MCGM to proceed in a proper non polluting manner," Stalin wrote, adding that these water bodies are fishing grounds for coastal communities and also provide a wetland habitat for birds.
"MCGM contractor says 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 Velarasu, additional municipal commissioner (projects), MCGM, could not be contacted on Monday despite multiple attempts. Virender Tiwari, 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 gave permission for laying new sewer lines in Bhandup but not to reclaim water bodies. We will seek a written undertaking from the MCGM 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.