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Ambernath MIDC to get 17.5-km closed pipeline to dispose of treated effluents

Residents and environmentalist have been demanding action against factories polluting the environment

mumbai Updated: Jun 23, 2018 00:02 IST
Sajana Nambiar
Sajana Nambiar
Hindustan Times
Thane,Ambernath,Kalyan
The Kalyan creek has turned into a nullah because of the continuous discharge of untreated effluents. (Rishikesh Chaudhary/HT)

Soon, effluents released from factories at Ambernath Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC) region will be released into Ulhas river through a closed pipeline. Ambernath MIDC has floated a tender for laying a 17.5-km pipeline between Ambernath forest naka and Kalyan creek.

Currently, effluents are discharged into nullahs within the city limits, thus harming the environment. Residents and environmentalist have been demanding action against factories polluting the environment.

“This is a major project taken up by MIDC after it received directions from the pollution board. There has been a demand to end the practice of discharging effluents directly into nullahs. The new pipeline will be used to carry treated effluents into the creek. This will eliminate chances of air pollution too,” said an officer from Ambernath MIDC.

“Bids have been invited and work order will be issued soon.”

Past incident

In March 2014, more than 600 residents fell ill after chemicals were dumped into a nullah at Vadolgaon. The incident highlighted the need to release treated effluents into the drains through closed pipelines.

Those living in the vicinity complained of headache and nausea, and were rushed to the nearby hospitals. Later, Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) initiated a probe against factories following which a few were shut down immediately.

As per report submitted by Kalyan MPCB to Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) in 2014, there are four MIDC areas in Badlapur and Ambernath city — additional Ambernath MIDC, Chikhloli-Morivli MIDC, Ambernath MIDC (chemical zone) and Badlapur MIDC. All areas have effluent generating units — 76 in Ambernath, 50 at Chikhloli-Morivli, 46 in Chemical zone and 122 at Badlapur.

MPCB claims the units have their own primary effluent treatment facilities and they dispose partially treated effluent at Common Effluent Treatment Plant (CETP) in their respective areas for further treatment and disposal. It also found that private tankers were used to dump effluents into the nullahs directly instead of discharging it through the company’s outlets.

There are 4 CETP plants in the areas — three at Ambernath and one at Badlapur. Effluents treated at these CETP are discharged into the nearby drains and nullahs that connect Waldhuni and Ulhas river.

Environmentalists alleged that despite having their own treatment plants, industrial units fail to treat effluents efficiently and discharge partially treated chemicals into nullahs.

“The new pipeline will ensure that effluents flow through closed channels and don’t pollute air. We have been constantly asking the pollution board to implement the project,” said Shashikant Dayma, founder of Waldhuni Biradari, an NGO which is fighting for Ulhas river conservation. “Scenario has changed in the past two years and MPCB is initiating strict action against polluting companies.”

Two years ago, all three CETPs at Ambernath were shut by MPCB citing below par functioning. But now, the plants are well-maintained and are likely to reopen in the next four to five months.

“Stringent norms have been introduced to curb the practice of discharging untreated effluents into the nullahs. The project [of laying the pipeline] will ensure that effluents are disposed of without causing pollution,” said DB Patil, regional officer, Kalyan MPCB.

Surveillance must

Although MIDC officials and MPCB claimed the project would help curb pollution in Ulhas river, activists fighting to save the river said round-the-clock monitoring of the pipeline is necessary to ensure norms are not flouted.

“I hope the project doesn’t end up benefitting industries because it will be a closed pipeline. This means, no access to check the quality of effluents being released. What if industries stop using CETPs completely? If so, then untreated effluents will be directly released into the river, killing whatever marine life is surviving in the water body,” said Ashwin Aghor, project officer for Save Ulhas river project, Vanshakti.

He added MIDC should give access to check quality of effluents carried by the pipeline. “There should be chambers, with removable lids to take sample of effluents for chemical analysis,” Aghor said.

DB Patil, regional officer for Kalyan MPCB, said, “We will keep a tab on effluents at CETP outlets through online monitoring. This will ensure that effluents released into the pipeline are treated and non-hazardous.”

First Published: Jun 23, 2018 00:02 IST