SC rap for KDMC over flow of sewage into rivers

By, Mumbai
Feb 06, 2020 04:53 PM IST

The Supreme Court (SC) pulled up the Kalyan-Dombivli Municipal Corporation (KDMC) on Wednesday for not meeting the deadline for reducing the inflow of untreated sewage into the Ulhas and Waldhuni rivers.

HT Image
HT Image

The two rivers supply drinking water to residents of the Badlapur-Thane belt, but receive raw domestic and industrial sewage from cities along its banks.

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The SC bench of Justices DY Chandrachud and Hemant Gupta directed the KDMC chief to be present in person during the next hearing on March 23 and also directed the National Environment Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) to overlook river restoration work alongside the Maharashtra environment department. The bench was hearing a special leave petition by an environment group, Vanashakti, which is campaigning for the restoration of the rivers.

In April 2019, the bench had pulled up the Maharashtra government for its lackadaisical attitude on the condition of the rivers and directed the state’s principal secretary (environment) to oversee improvement in water quality. During the next hearing in July 2019, four municipal corporations in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region - Ulhasnnagar, Kalyan-Dombivli, Ambernath and Badlapur assured the court of complete river restoration by December 2019.

An affidavit submitted before the court on Wednesday, reviewed by HT, showed that KDMC was currently treating only 30% or 66 million litres of sewage per day (MLD) against the daily generation of 216 MLD. Remaining sewage enters the river untreated. Meanwhile, three other corporations had improved efforts by installing sewage treatment plants and completing 97% restoration efforts for Ambernath, 90% for Kulgaon-Badlapur and 80% for Ulhasnagar.

“The court accepted a final deadline of March 2020 for these three civic bodies but was aggravated by horrible performance of the KDMC,” said Zaman Ali, environment lawyer representing the petitioners. He added that a show-cause notice was issued by the state pollution control board in 2019 to ramp up restoration efforts. “Despite filing a delayed status report, KDMC has asked for overall work completion by December 2020. Even the state environment department was aggrieved by KDCM’s shoddy work wherein they were expected to complete 80% work till now but have managed only 30%.”

KDMC commissioner Govind Bodke said, “Work is going on in full swing with three of the eight sewage treatment plants functioning properly. Tenders for remaining ones have already been floated and work is expected to start soon. We will ensure better collection and treatment of sewage. The work will be completed by December 2020.”

HT had reported in April 2019 that the Thane district public health laboratory had found the water from the rivers unfit for drinking.

“There are several other issues still plaguing the health of these rivers and will be brought before the court by the next hearing,” said Stalin D from Vanashakti.

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    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

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