Maharashtra’s most polluted water bodies in Mumbai, Pune, Thane: Report
Five water bodies in Maharashtra contain ‘heavily polluted’ water, and Mumbai’s Mithi River is one of them, according to a water quality analysis done by the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) in May.
The MPCB’s findings were compiled after monitoring water quality at 250 locations in Mumbai, Thane, Pune and Nagpur, under the National Water Monitoring Programme. These included rivers, sea coasts and creeks, drains, dams and wells . While 81%, or 139 of these sites had ‘non-polluted’ water, 28 sites (16%) contained ‘polluted’ water, and five (3%) were ‘heavily polluted’.
Most sites where the MPCB recorded poor water quality were in the urban areas of Mumbai, Thane, Pune and Nagpur. In Mumbai, nine locations, most of which are popular tourist spots, had ‘polluted water’ — Juhu, Worli Sea Face, Nariman Point, Gateway of India, Girgaum Chowpatty, Versova, Malabar Hill, Haji Ali and Dadar’ Shivaji Park. Apart from the Mithi, Rabodi Nallah, Colour Chem Nallah, Sandoz Nallah — all in Thane and which receive sewage and industrial waste, had ‘heavily polluted’ or ‘very bad’ water.
The MPCB said the reason more locations in Mumbai were identified as having polluted water was because it collected samples near marine outfalls, which releases both treated and untreated sewage into the sea, experts pointed out how this showed not enough was being done to stop industries from releasing untreated waste into the sea.
“These locations are being changed now and will be around 15 metres offshore,” said YB Sontakke, joint director, water quality, MPCB, adding, “The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has submitted a comprehensive action plan to improve water quality. Tenders have been issued to set up sewage treatment plants and we expect an improvement in the days to come.”
Dilip Boralkar, environmentalist and former member secretary, MPCB, however, said the board had failed to control industrial pollution. “In other parts of the state, MPCB has failed to control industrial pollution entering rivers. It is high time the state comes up with innovative ideas to work together, moving from command and control to being proactive,” Boralkar said.
MPCB said it has warned industries discharging untreated sewage into drains. “While many have been issued closure notices, these drains are all being diverted to closed pipelines of common effluent treatment plants. We will be removing the nullah water from this monitoring stretch,” said Sontakke.
In Pune, nine river stretches, including Bhima, Mula, Mutha, Mula-Mutha, and Pawna, had ‘polluted’ water. Thane had eight.
“The Pune municipal corporation is working on treating every drop of water, be it at rivers or lakes, based on a project awarded to the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA),” Sontakke said. Thane’s major issue is domestic sewage entering creeks. “It needs to be treated at source and collected before discharge,” he said. “In Nagpur, some locations are facing problem with industrial and domestic sewage, directions have been issued to the district administration to resolve the pollution.”
Supreme Court advocate and environment lawyer Sanjay Upadhyay said it was time the state develops programmes similar to the Ganga rejuvenation plan for polluted rivers in Maharashtra, and put in place a Coastal Management Act to ensure governing bodies are penalised for water pollution. “Unless a robust framework, which is known and simple to understand, is out in place, these problems will continue. The institutional delivery mechanism is poor and needs to be upgraded immediately,” he said.