‘Criminal to dump sewage in drinking water zone of Ulhas river’
It has come to the fore that untreated sewage is being released into the drinking water zone of Ulhas river. The river provides potable water to neighbouring towns and cities.
“This is a criminal act which endangers the health of innocent citizens who drink the water. It is also a breach of the promises made to the Apex Court. Neither is the sewage being diverted, nor is the STP is operational,” said Stalin D, director, Vanashakti.
A sewage treatment plant (STP) that was supposed to come up along the river, as per Supreme Court order in November 2017, is still under-construction, said Vanashakti.
The group had filed a petition in the Bombay high court to draw attention to untreated sewage being released into the river. The high court had ordered the state to allot ₹100 crore to set up the STP and restore the river.
On Monday, Vanashakti apprised Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) and the environment department about the pollution. A team from Vanashakti visited the site on Sunday and said the sewage flows into the river through Khemani nullah in Ulhasnagar.
“That zone of the river provides drinking water to Ulhasnagar, Thane, Kalyan, Badlapur and Dombivli. While there are pumping stations to purify the water further along the course of the river, the amount of waste dumped in the river can cause health issues,” said Ashwin Aghor, project officer, Vanashakti’s Save Ulhas Project.
A senior official from Ulhasnagar Municipal Corporation (UMC) said the process to divert nullah water from the drinking zone is underway. “Quantity of domestic waste dumped in the zone is less. But sewage will be diverted to the creek directly until the STP becomes operational. No health issues have been reported from the areas where river water is being supplied post-treatment,” he added.
MPCB said an inspection team recently visited the site. “We don’t know the developments before our site visit. But during inspection, we found the sewage was not entering the drinking water zone,” said DB Patil, regional officer, Kalyan MPCB.
YB Sontakke, joint director, water quality, MPCB, said there could be a possibility about issues at the site before the team’s visit, but everything seems okay now.
“UMC has been directed to improve water quality by building STPs along the problem areas of the river and ensure polluted river stretches are guided to creeks. They are working on restoring the river,” he added.
In December, HT had reported that water treatment unit of Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC) told MPCB that Ulhas river’s water was contaminated with industrial chemicals and domestic sewage from factories in the area. MIDC urged MPCB to take immediate measures to fix the problem.