Dysfunctional Badlapur wastewater treatment plant fined ₹5 lakh for polluting Waldhuni riverUpdated: May 20, 2020 17:22 IST
The state pollution control board has fined a privately-run Badlapur common effluent treatment plant (CETP) for releasing untreated industrial waste into the Waldhuni river, which had turned red last week due to the pollution.
There has been a marginal improvement in water quality this week as the river water was not tainted red as Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) and the CETP managers said effluent treatment was being carried out on priority.
The red colour was spotted across several sections of a nine-kilometre stretch of Waldhuni, a tributary of the Ulhas river, which supplies water to cities in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region.
Following directions from the National Green Tribunal from January this year, urban local bodies and CETPs failing to treat sewage or effluents are liable to a penalty of Rs 05 lakh.
“Every CETP has to pay up a bank guarantee for such violations. We have directed the Badalpur CETP to forfeit their existing bank guarantee, which will be confiscated by us, and the CETP will have to pay double [Rs 10 lakh] as the new bank guarantee and ensure such violations are not repeated,” said Amar Supate, principal scientific officer, MPCB.
The CETP is run by an association of local industrial units. According to CETP operators, 22 pharmaceutical, textile, food processing and chemical industries are functional during the lockdown, sending effluents to the dysfunctional CETP.
“In their response to our notice, the CETP informed that their operator was not present when some of these 22 industries had begun production. However, they have called in their vigilance team and assured us that such violations of Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974, will not be repeated,” said SL Waghmare, regional officer (Kalyan), MPCB.
A Badlapur CETP member, requesting anonymity, said they had taken three major decisions following the issue. “A standard operating procedure has been set for all 22 industries functioning during the lockdown that they cannot function until a CETP employee checks their effluent discharge mechanism. Secondly, any new unit starting production needs to take permission from the CETP. Lastly, a separate vigilance team is monitoring daily production and wastewater treatment,” the member said, adding that it was not a textile unit but a drug manufacturing unit part of the essential services using chemicals that led to the red coloured effluents. “The vigilance department is looking into the exact source of pollution, and we submit further compliance reports to MPCB and bear the penalty.”
The complainant Ulhasnagar Citizens Forum Satyajit Burman and petitioners before the Supreme Court environment group Vanashakti welcomed the penal action. “We hope the fines serve as a deterrent. We are closely monitoring the situation, and if pollution levels do not decline, we will be forced to seek legal remedy,” said Stalin D, director, Vanashakti.