Mithi River at Andheri Kurla road, Sakinaka in Mumbai showed extremely high levels of toxicity last year(HT Photo)
Mithi River at Andheri Kurla road, Sakinaka in Mumbai showed extremely high levels of toxicity last year(HT Photo)

Maharashtra pollution board fails to upload water quality data for 7 months

Of the 650 cities and towns located along polluted river stretches in the country, Maharashtra has 161.
By Badri Chatterjee | Hindustan Times, Mumbai
UPDATED ON MAY 18, 2018 12:35 PM IST

The Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) has not uploaded their monthly water quality bulletin for coastal and inland water bodies of Maharashtra, on their website since November last year.

In 2016, the Central Pollution Control Board made it mandatory for all state pollution control boards to monitor and upload monthly water quality data on their respective websites so that information is available in the public domain, one of the mandates under the Centre’s National Water Quality Monitoring Programme (NWQMP).

Water quality in your city

Similar to an air quality index, water quality index (WQI) provides a single number (grade) that expresses overall water quality of a certain water sample (location and time specific) based on important parameters, which provides a simple indicator of water quality and a general idea on the possible problems with the water at a particular region.

On May 16, city-based NGO Watchdog Foundation filed a complaint with the chief secretary, Maharashtra government and the MPCB, highlighting the issue.

“For some reason, the MPCB has failed to update the water quality data, which points to a very dismal state of affairs of this government body. The quantity and quality of fish and other marine life is in an abysmal state owing to coastal pollution. The only source of information about the toxicity in the fish we consume comes from the MPCB, and it is currently not being provided to the public,” said Godfrey Pimenta, trustee, Watchdog Foundation.

He added that experts had alleged time and again that the MPCB data may not be reliable as the magnitude of the pollution level in the water bodies could be much higher than those recorded. “The state has 49 of 302 polluted river stretches in India, the highest across 29 states, and the MPCB itself identified this. It seems more such data might tarnish the image of the organisation,” said Pimenta.

HT had reported on April 1 that of the 650 cities and towns located along polluted river stretches in the country, Maharashtra has 161 or 25% — the highest in India — according to the Union environment ministry. This information was based on data collated by the MPCB between 2012 and 2016 under NWQMP.

Based on water quality analysis from January to October, HT previously reported that the city’s most expensive real estate areas are surrounded by high levels of water pollution, and faecal coliform (FC) - a bacterium found in human and animal excreta. This indicates that the presence of pathogens is 60% higher than the accepted standards, as a result of untreated domestic waste entering rivers, creeks and flowing directly into the sea.

The MPCB officials said that lack of manpower and software issues had led to the delay in uploading the data. “Continuous water quality monitoring is being carried out by us every month. However, owing to modifications in the software we are using and the less number of people working on it, the process is taking time. It is expected to be uploaded soon,” said YB Sontakke, joint director (water quality), MPCB.

He added that based on recent water quality assessments by the board, it was observed that there was an improvement in water quality in some coastal areas of Mumbai.

“While rivers like Mithi, coastal areas such as Juhu, Girgaum, and Haji Ali continued to have high pollution levels due to untreated domestic waste; areas like Thane creek, Versova, and Gateway of India, have shown a marked difference with improved water quality,” said Sontakke.

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