More polluted rivers in Maharashtra, not fewer: CPCB
The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) has disputed its state counterpart’s claim that polluted river stretches in Maharashtra have reduced. According to the CPCB, the number of polluted river stretches in the state increased from 49 to 53 in 2017-18, the highest in the country. This information is yet to be released as a report under the National Water Quality Monitoring Programme.
In August, the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) had claimed the number of polluted river stretches had dropped from 49 to 34.
However, across India, the number of polluted river stretches has gone up, the CPCB told the National Green Tribunal (NGT).
“We made a presentation before the NGT and state heads about a revised list of polluted river stretches, which have increased from 302 to 351 across India, with 53 in Maharashtra,” said A Sudhakar, member secretary, CPCB. In Maharashtra, CPCB analysed 672 water bodies and found 566 — or 86% — of them had ‘non-satisfactory’ water quality , it told NGT’s principal bench. While the central board’s analysis is based on data sent to it by the state board, the findings could vary because of CPCB analysing different parameters and criteria of what constitutes pollution.
The CPCB categorised polluted river stretches based on the amount of biochemical oxygen demand in the water body — or the level of oxygen that plants and animals need for survival.
The CPCB categorised stretches with the most pollution as priority 1.
“A majority of the priority 1 (water bodies) were from the Mumbai Metropolitan Region and Pune, with examples such as the Mithi, Mula, Mula-Mutha, Wainganga, and Ulhas, along with river stretches in the Navi Mumbai industrial area,” said Sudhakar.
However, the MPCB had only categorised the Mithi river as priority 1.
While the CPCB has recommended regular assessment of ground water levels, industrial and domestic pollution, and the installation of sewage treatment plants to treat sewage before it is released into natural water bodies to check the pollution, it also pointed out that Mahatashtra may be reporting the most number of polluted water bodies as it had the most water quality monitoring stations. “There are 250 water quality monitoring stations across Maharashtra, and MPCB also carries out more monthly monitoring compared to other states,” Sudhakar said.
A report by Hindustan Times, from April 1 this year, had also found that of the 650 cities and towns located along polluted river stretches in the country, 161 or 25% of them were in Maharashtra — the highest in India. The report was based on information from the Union environment ministry. Mithi River was identified as one of the most polluted rivers in India.
MPCB officers, meanwhile, said they have only received a draft of the CPCB’s fresh analysis, which was confusing. “We have asked them to clear these issues and send us a final report,” said YB Sontakke, the joint director, water quality, MPCB. “Once we get this list, action will begin from our end. This reassessment has been done based on new criteria for polluted river stretches. Thus, our follow up study will factor in all these points.”
But Sudhakar said the MPCB can take action on its own, as the data was originally prepared by the state pollution control boards, not the CPCB. “There is a panic situation only when the CPCB releases this information. No one is looking at the ground level data to take action at the source, without anybody prompting them,” he said.