Toxic foam pollutes Ulhas river at Badlapur
A site inspection of Ulhas river, which comes under the Kulgaon-Badlapur Municipal Council (KBMC), has revealed high levels of water pollution, with a section of the river along Badlapur bubbling with thick foam and filth even after sewage treatment. According to the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB), municipal corporations are lagging far behind in their compliance to the Supreme Court’s (SC) directions to revive the two rivers. KBMC has said “corrective action will be taken” once the pollutants have been analysed while MPCB expects to compile a detailed report by the end of the week.
Following the SC’s directions, a 12-hour site inspection (9am to 9pm) of Ulhas and Waldhuni rivers along Badlapur, Ambernath, Ulhasnagar, Kalyan and Dombivli was carried out on Tuesday and Wednesday by the MPCB, the state environment department, civic officials and the petitioner, non-governmental organisation Vanashakti. The inspection team found high levels of pollution in the rivers.
Details shared by Vanashakti and validated by MPCB showed sewage mixed with effluents entering the drinking water zone from a nullah along Badlapur falling under the KBMC’s jurisdiction. “We found foam from the outlet as opposed to clear water due to high phosphate content. Polluted water was seen entering the drinking water zone. These effluents have cancer causing agents, which cannot be removed during filtration by water supplying agencies. The Maharashtra government has to wake up and implement a zero discharge policy in both rivers,” said Stalin D, director of Vanashakti.
Municipal corporations have managed to achieve only 50% of the short and long term directions laid down by the SC over two years. “Ambernath has achieved 80% of its target by collecting and treating sewage effectively. However, other municipal corporations are lagging far behind. There is zero treatment at Ulhasnagar but sewage treatment plant (STP) projects are expected to be commissioned in coming months,” said an MPCB official. “Only 20-25% treatment was observed in Kalyan-Dombivli with sewage diversion and collection happening at a slow pace. At Badlapur, 70% of sewage was being treated but effluent discharge from industries was not being monitored properly.”
YB Sontakke, joint director (water quality), MPCB, part of the inspection team, confirmed the findings. MPCB said a detailed report will be ready by the end of the week. “There are numerous issues that have been identified during the visit. Strict action will be taken in some cases while notices will be served to others,” said E Ravindran, member secretary, MPCB. KBMC said 22 million litres of sewage per day (MLD) was generated in the areas under its jurisdiction while 18 MLD are treated. “A chemical analysis of the foam water will be done to assess the source of pollutants. We will check for industrial discharge, and corrective action will be taken,” said Prakash Borse, chief officer, KBMC.