The Mula-Mutha river, that flows along a 22-km stretch through Pune city, is Maharashtra’s second-most polluted river as of 2018, containing human and animal excreta three times more than the safe limit, according to the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB). The Mithi river in Mumbai is the most polluted in the state as per the MPCB’s water quality assessment of eight major rivers in the state in 2018, published in the recently released Maharashtra Economic Survey report 2018-19.The study found levels of faecal coliform content (indication of human and animal excreta), biochemical oxygen demand (oxygen levels for aquatic life to survive) and dissolved oxygen in the Mula-Mutha river, all not meeting safety levels. According to report, Mula Mutha contains 332.08 mg/l fecal coliform. As per the pollution watchdog 100 mg/l is the safe limit. Bio-chemical oxygendemand in the Mula-Mutha river is at 12.08 mg/l which is almost four time above prescribed level. Prescribed level of BOD is 3 mg/l. Mula-Mutha river records 42 mg/l chemical oxygen demand (COD). At the same time, the nitrate level in the Mula-Mutha is recorded at 2.41mg/l, almost double the safe limit (1 mg/l ). Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) releases 744 MLD of water into the river per day, of which 347 MLD is released without any treatment.MPCB has issued directions dated on January 17, 2019, directing the municipal body to earmark Rs 32.7 lakh per day (one paise/per litre) towards the cost of remediation/pollution control and for the said amount to be kept in a seperate account, to be operated by the municipal commissioner, for remediation in consultation with the MPCB.However, PMC has failed to earmark the aforesaid amount. As a result MPCB directed the ICICI bank to freeze an amount of Rs 15 crore that belongs to the PMC as “punishment”; and amount shall not be released to PMC without any further direction by MPCB or by NGT. Dilip Khedkar, regional officer of MPCB, said, “This is the first such action taken against any civic body in Maharashtra by the board. After repetitive attempts to remedy matters we have to take strong action against the civic body.” Sunil Joshi, environmentalist and river expert, said, “Presence of human and animal excreta three times above permeable limits indicates how our rivers are dying. Civic body is responsible. River rejuvenation projects like JICA remain on paper only. No one is taking river pollution seriously.”Recently, Prakash Javadekar, Union minister of environment, said approvals for the four phases of the Mula-Mutha rejuvenation project will be given by the end of July, and ground-breaking ceremony will be held in first week of August.The Mula-Mutha river cleaning project is a joint initiative between the central government and PMC. The overall goal of the project is to improve the water quality and river ecology and prevent the pollution of Mula-Mutha river. The project involves the interception, diversion and treatment of domestic sewage generated and discharged into the river. Institutional strengthening, capacity building and public awareness for sustainability of projects are among the other goals of the project. The project includes augmentation of sewage treatment capacity in a comprehensive manner and construction of 24 community toilets in slum areas to check open defecation along the river banks.