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Tuesday, Dec 10, 2019

Supreme Court pulls up Maharashtra for poor efforts to clean Ulhas river

The SC has asked principal secretary (environment) to come back with the steps the state has taken to comply with previous SC orders on restoring the rivers, by the next hearing on July 17.

mumbai Updated: Apr 13, 2019 03:36 IST
Supreme Court pulls up Maharashtra for poor efforts to clean Ulhas river
Supreme Court pulls up Maharashtra for poor efforts to clean Ulhas river(HT Photo)
         

The Supreme Court (SC) has pulled up the Maharashtra government, not for the first time, for its careless approach to reducing pollution in the Ulhas and Waldhuni rivers. The two rivers supply drinking water to residents in the Badlapur-Thane belt, but is full of untreated industrial and domestic sewage.

The SC has asked principal secretary (environment) to come back with the steps the state has taken to comply with previous SC orders on restoring the rivers, by the next hearing on July 17.

“The secretary (environment) shall cause an inspection to be carried out by a competent team of officers, including National Environment Engineering Research Institute, to verify the factual position in regard to implementation (of river restoration),” the bench of Justices DY Chandrachud and Hemant Gupta said.

The SC was hearing a special leave petition by environment group Vanashakti. It asked the petitioners to also join the inspection team.

Ulhas is among 53 rivers from Maharashtra on a list of 351 most polluted rivers in India, according to the Central Pollution Control Board.

A water quality report from February 28, 2019 showed water from the rivers as highly acidic. While sewage treatment plants are being built in some areas, petitioners pointed out there was no improvement in the quality of drinking water.

This is despite a November 2017 SC order, which directed the Maharashtra government to release ₹100 crore to restore the Ulhas and Waldhuni rivers. The state chief secretary paid the restoration cost. Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) and four municipal corporations of areas around the rivers’ basin — Ulhasnagar, Ambernath, Kalyan-Dombivli, and Badlapur — began restoration.

But, 15 months on, there still seems to be dumping of untreated sewage, the SC pointed out while asking the environment secretary to hold fortnightly meetings with commissioners.

“Municipal corporations have been misleading the SC. Drinking water continues to be contaminated with sewage. We will apprise the SC of ground realities by the next hearing,” said Stalin D, director, Vanashakti.