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655 million litres of untreated sewage released daily into Mumbai’s creeks, sea: MPCB tells NGT

MPCB blames BMC for not taking action despite repeated reminders

mumbai Updated: Jul 06, 2018 00:36 IST
Badri Chatterjee
Badri Chatterjee
Hindustan Times
Mumbai,Maharashtra,MPCB
At the BMC sewage cleaning plant at Love Grove Complex, Worli (HT Photo)

Approximately 25% of the city’s sewage enters water bodies untreated, leading to poor water quality and leaving quantities of trash along Mumbai’s beaches, according to the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB).

According to an affidavit submitted by the MPCB on July 2 to the western branch of the National Green Tribunal, Mumbai generates 2671 million litres of sewage per day. About 75% or 2016 million litres per day (MLD) is treated in sewage treatment plants (STPs) and 655 MLD is discharged directly into creeks and the sea at different locations.

The MPCB was responding to an application filed by the non-governmental organisation Vanashakti. Vanashakti made the MPCB’s affidavit public on Thursday.

In January, Vanashakti had complained to the NGT Pune against civic bodies in the Maharashtra government for their failure to install nets across storm water drains in Mumbai which would collect waste from nullahs before they empty into water bodies. “Solid waste comprising of plastic carry bags, thermocol plates, Styrofoam cups etc., finds its way into the mangroves through tidal action. Presently, the plastic materials have no obstruction and no way of being collected separately,” said Vanashakti’s application.

Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s (BMC) sewage operations department said of the total 2671 MLD, the civic body treats 1,500 to 1,800 MLD at Bhandup, Ghatkopar, Versova, Malad, Colaba, Worli and Bandra sewage treatment plants (STPs). Private STPS treat some of the sewage at hotels and housing complexes while the rest goes into rivers, streams, creeks or the sea. It also uses devices like trash booms.

According to the MPCB’s affidavit,“creeks, rivers and the sea along Mumbai’s 437.71 sq km coastal stretch, are under threat from continuous discharge of municipal solid waste, plastic waste etc. directly into nullahs by the general public and slums areas. Discharge of untreated domestic waste accounts for 93% of the source of pollution for these water bodies.” This calculation is based on monthly monitoring of water bodies and coastal waters.

MPCB also claimed it had sent repeated reminders to BMC regarding the actions taken to collect, segregate, store, transport and dispose waste, and treat it under the directions of Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974, and new guidelines set by the Central Pollution Control Board for sewage discharge. “BMC has not taken required effective steps to comply with the said Act and rules made thereunder,” said the affidavit, adding that in September last year, a prosecution notice under the Act was issued to the civic body for non-compliance.

Vanashakti welcomed MPCB’s affidavit and said nets across stormwater drains were a simple solution. “All the marine outfalls which empty into mangroves and the sea need to be guarded with nets,” said Stalin D, director of Vanashakti. “Lack of incentive is forcing the state machinery not to take action using simple methods.”

MPCB had submitted similar figures to the Bombay high court last year, which suggests there been no improvement in Mumbai’s sewage treatment since 2017.

First Published: Jul 06, 2018 00:35 IST