Waldhuni river turns red; locals files fresh complaint with CPCBUpdated: May 13, 2020, 23:30 IST
Waldhuni, a river that provides drinking water to the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR) has turned red due to discharge of untreated industrial effluents. On Tuesday, members of the Ulhasnagar Citizens Forum, a residents’ body, filed a fresh complaint with the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) attaching photographs of the polluted river turning red (see image).
“After decisions have been taken to allow industries to function during lockdown-3, there has been a surge in production, but at the same time common effluent treatment plants (CETPs) are dysfunctional,” said Satyajit Burman, member of the citizen’s forum.
“Despite repeated complaints, government bodies are violating the law along with industries dumping chemical effluents directly into the river leading to serious health problems for the entire Thane district,” said Burman.
The Ulhas river and its tributary, the Waldhuni, drinking water to more than 30 lakh residents in the Thane-Badlapur. The water is pumped out from the higher reaches of the rivers before it reaches the industrial area. A water quality report from last year of samples from the drinking water zone of the rivers by residents at private lab showed the water was highly polluted.
Local municipal bodies said they were not aware of the issue as they were busy dealing with Covid-19 matters.
SL Waghmare, regional officer, MPCB said, “This section of the Waldhuni river does not meet Ulhas river at all, and drains at Ulhas creek before entering the sea. There is no threat to the drinking water of the Thane-Badlapur belt due to these industrial effluents. However, there is a threat to the natural environment and biodiversity of the creek. We will soon have our inspection results in the matter.”
HT had reported that the Central Pollution Control Board had taken cognisance of increasing water pollution in Waldhuni last month and directed the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) to act on complaints.
“The red colour seems to be coming from either dye industries or bulk drug-producing (pharmaceutical) plants,” said Waghmare. “A list has been made of such units and investigation on the source of this pollution began on Wednesday. We will be filing a detailed inspection report and taking action against violators.”
According to Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation, there 30,115 industrial units functioning across the state during lockdown with 8.06 lakh employees working. Of this MMR has around 386 functional units mostly sanitiser production and pharmaceutical bodies. “Strict orders were issued to units to ensure treatment of waste before discharge. With MPCB’s help, we will be identifying the polluting bodies,” said Kalidas Bandekar, superintendent engineer (MMR), MIDC.
Meanwhile, high water pollution continues even though the matter is pending before the Supreme Court. Petitioners said they will be filing fresh applications against the Maharashtra government and all pollution abatement agencies that they were in contempt of court orders. “A free run has been given to perennial violators by all concerned government bodies in this lockdown. We are forced to move the SC,” said Stalin D, director, Vanashakti.