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Friday, Oct 18, 2019

NGO moves NGT over waste discharge into Mumbai water bodies

Moves against various bodies including BMC and Maharashtra government over failure to prevent pollution of creeks, rivers and the sea

mumbai Updated: Jan 31, 2018 00:28 IST
Badri Chatterjee
Badri Chatterjee
Hindustan Times
The NGT asked the respondents to file their replies in two weeks.
The NGT asked the respondents to file their replies in two weeks.(Representational photo/HT)

Maharashtra is doing nothing to prevent solid waste in nullahs from flowing into creeks, rivers and the sea in Mumbai, environmentalists have said.

Environment watchdog Vanashakti filed an application at the National Green Tribunal (NGT), western bench, Pune against the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), urban development department, Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB), Central Pollution Control Board, state environment department, and state mangrove cell for their failure to install nets across storm water drains in the city to collect waste before they empty out at creeks, rivers or the sea. The waste, mostly plastic debris, was being washed into the mangrove forests and beaches in Mumbai, apart from endangering marine life, the environmentalists have said.

The application was admitted by the NGT on Tuesday. State respondents were issued notices and asked to file their replies to Vanashakti’s complaints in two weeks.

“The reason for excessive pollution in these areas is the discharge of untreated waste from the storm water drains (nullahs) directly into the sea and creeks. The applicants had suggested installation of nets in storm water drains to stop the solid waste from entering the creeks, water bodies and the sea. However, not only have the respondents failed to pay any heed to the suggestions,” read the application, “solid waste comprising plastic carry bags, thermocol plates, styrofoam cups etc., finds its way into the mangroves through tidal action. Presently, the plastic materials have no obstruction and no way of being collected separately.”

Stalin D, director, Vanashakti said, “Coastal ecology has been seriously degrading due to increasing amount of non-degradable waste and untreated sewage that is being sent to the sea. The answer to this is not cleaning up the beaches daily but taking steps to prevent the garbage from reaching the sea.”

He added the issue needed simple solutions. “Installing nets in all nullahs and phasing out of non-degradable plastic bags and materials is the way forward. But the ease of implementation and cost-effectiveness is preventing the government machinery from taking up the project since there is no scope to milk funds,” he said.

According to the MPCB, domestic waste generated in the city is 2,671 million litres per day (MLD) of which 2016 MLD is being treated and 655 MLD is directly being discharged into creeks and the sea at different locations daily, which means almost 25% of the city’s sewage is entering the sea directly.

BMC officials said a number of projects were in planning stages and others were already being implemented. “Based on the source apportionment carried out by MPCB, we have identified areas where maximum waste is entering rivers or directly into the sea. A model using the installation of booms to collect domestic waste at marine outfalls is being planned and construction of sewage treatment plants has already begun,” said a senior civic official, adding that they will be submitting their response to the NGT soon.

YB Sontakke, joint director, water quality department, BMC said, “Our stand is clear that it is the BMC’s responsibility to treat sewage, domestic waste at source and several directions have been issued to them time and again.”

The state mangrove cell has removed over 300,000 kg of trash from mangroves along the western suburbs over the past month, officials said. “While this is a short-term solution, segregating and composting waste is the only long-term sustainable solution to a problem like this, and all departments need to work in tandem to resolve it,” said N Vasudevan, additional principal chief conservator of forest, mangrove cell.

First Published: Jan 31, 2018 00:28 IST

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