Faecal truth: E-coli thriving in Mahim creek, big threat to fish

Water tested positive for extremely high levels of faecal matter, industrial effluents, low oxygen levels
Toxic foam has started forming on the surface of Mahim creek(HT Photo)
Toxic foam has started forming on the surface of Mahim creek(HT Photo)
Updated on May 12, 2019 12:50 AM IST
Copy Link
Hindustan Times | By, Mumbai

Water quality in the Mahim creek is ‘bad to very bad’, making it unsuitable for the survival of any aquatic life, says a study by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) - Central Institute of Fisheries Education (CIFE), Mumbai, which was published in the Indian Journal of Ecology recently.

The study, by researchers Pravin Sapkale, Neelam Saharan, Sanath Kumar, Vidya Bharati, and Kundan Kumar found that faecal coliform (FC) — an indication of human and animal excreta — in the creek is 180 times the safe limit prescribed by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB). Untreated domestic sewage flowing into the creek through the Mithi river has caused the FC count — measured as colonies of coliform per 100 millilitre (ml) of water — to be as high as 18,000/100ml against safe standards of 100/100ml.

“We found the presence of drug-resistant bacteria known as Escherichia-coli, or E-coli — a microorganism widely found in the intestinal tract of humans — thriving in the creek water,” said one of the authors of the study.

“The lowest range of FC was 4,200/100ml, which is extremely dangerous as millions of litres of sewage continue to get released in the coastal water. Pollution levels are highest during the pre-monsoon period.”

Researchers studied the water quality from December 2016 to December 2018 by collecting samples from three stations along Mahim creek and Mithi river — Mahim-Bandra pipeline, Bandra-Sion Link Road and Bandra Kurla Complex.

Mahim creek covers the last 1.3-km stretch of the 17.8-km Mithi river before it discharges into the Arabian Sea. The study identified that much of the untreated domestic waste entering the Mahim Bay area was being discharged from nearby slums. On the other hand, industries along the Dharavi belt were responsible for the chemical effluents being released into the water.

“The level of contamination is very high and human impact is responsible. A variety of hazardous pathogenic bacteria, virus, and protozoa are present, and it can lead to diseases. Human health is at risk since these bacteria contaminate sea food, which is ultimately consumed by humans,” said another co-author of the study.

As per the study’s suggestions, illegal encroachment, reclamation, construction, and dumping along the creek need to be stopped and mangrove plantation increased to restore the ecosystem of the area. However, coastal regulation zone (CRZ) rules, 2018, have allowed further reclamation along the creek belt.

“Redevelopment activities have been planned along the Mahim Bay, and the civic body has already been informed to increase efforts to clean the creek. The matter is being monitored by a Supreme Court committee,” said an official from the state environment department.

YB Sontakke, joint director (water quality), Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) did not comment on the study but said he will direct officials to inspect the area and check water quality.

Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) said desilting activities were underway and efforts are being taken to curb pollution of the creek. “ 10 crore has been invested for desilting activities, which will be completed by May-end. The sewage operations department has planned treatment plants at the site and solid waste management teams are collecting and treating waste at source. Encroachment removal will be expedited post monsoon,” said Vijay Khabale, public relations officer, BMC.

While mangrove planting will have a positive impact on the area, the state mangrove cell pointed out that it will not help improve water quality, as suggested by the study. “High FC content does not come as a surprise as only slums surround the creek, discharging sewage. There is no space for mangrove trees along the river or creek bed. The only solution is improved treatment at source,” said N Vasudevan, additional principal chief conservator of forest, state mangrove cell.


    Badri Chatterjee is an environment correspondent at Hindustan Times, Mumbai. He writes about environment issues - air, water and noise pollution, climate change - weather, wildlife - forests, marine and mangrove conservation

Close Story

Less time to read?

Try Quickreads

  • UT secretary, education, Purva Garg, along with director school education Harsuhinder Pal Singh Brar, UT chief engineer CB Ojha and other officials, visited five schools on Thursday. (HT Photo)

    Chandigarh: Education department officials inspect infra at 5 govt schools

    To ensure that infrastructure at government schools in Chandigarh is upgraded before their reopening after the summer break, UT secretary, education, Purva Garg, along with director school education Harsuhinder Pal Singh Brar, UT chief engineer CB Ojha and other officials, visited five schools on Thursday.

  • In March, HC had sought fresh progress reports from UT on the airport-related projects. (HT file photo)

    Chandigarh: Shorter route to airport in the works, UT tells high court

    Appearing before the Punjab and Haryana high court with regard to status of different infrastructure projects related to the Chandigarh International Airport, the UT administration on Thursday informed the court that a shorter route to the airport was in the works. In March, HC had sought fresh progress reports from UT on the airport-related projects. The directions came on a 2015 public interest litigation by Mohali Industries Association, alleging lack of facilities at the airport.

  • Newly elected Gulzar Inder Singh Chahal (centre) addresses the members during the annual general meeting at the IS Bindra PCA stadium in Mohali. (HT Photo)

    Gulzar Inder Chahal elected as PCA president

    Former cricketer and actor Gulzar Inder Singh Chahal, 39, was unanimously elected as the new president of the Punjab Cricket Association on Thursday. Gulzar has succeeded noted industrialist Rajinder Gupta, who had resigned in April after his tenure got over. Four more office-bearers, including vice-president Gagan Khanna, secretary Dilsher Khanna, joint secretary Surjit Rai and treasurer Rakesh Walia, were also elected at PCA's annual general meeting at its stadium in Phase 9, Mohali.

  • On Wednesday, the crime investigative agency had arrested Lovejeet Singh, alias Love, 20, Akashdeep Singh, 21, Paramvir Singh, 19, Sunil Kumar, alias Bacchi, 22, and Gurjant Singh, 20, all associates of Landa. (Image for representational purpose)

    Recovered AK-47 magazine is of Nishan Singh’s gun: Mohali police

    Further interrogation of gangster Lakhbir Singh's five associates, who were arrested on Wednesday, has revealed that the AK-47 magazine recovered from them is of the rifle recovered from Nishan Singh, arrested earlier in May for giving logistics support for the RPG attack at Punjab Police's intelligence headquarters in Mohali. According to police, his associate, Nishan and Lovejeet Singh, alias Love, 20 knew each other and worked for a close associate of Khalistani terrorist Harvinder Singh Rinda, Landa, who operates from Pakistan.

  • Protests at the main connecting point between Chandigarh and Panchkula pose harassment to hundreds of commuters. (HT File photo)

    In Panchkula, Housing Board chowk a hotspot for protesters

    In the past one year, Panchkula has witnessed over 68 protests. What remained the common factor among them was the protest site -- the Housing Board chowk. Instead of using the designated dharna ground, the protesters chose the chowk – the main connecting point between Chandigarh and Panchkula – leaving hundreds of commuters a harried lot. Water cannons were used at least eight times on the protesters near the Housing Board chowk.

Story Saved
Saved Articles
My Reads
Sign out
New Delhi 0C
Friday, May 27, 2022