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Wednesday, Oct 23, 2019

Water pollution at Ulhas river: A study in contrast

Water from Ulhas and Waldhuni rivers is supplied to 30 lakh residents

mumbai Updated: May 10, 2019 00:53 IST
Sajana Nambiar
Sajana Nambiar
Hindustan Times
Two men clear dead fish from Ulhas river, near Raita bridge, on Thursday. Analysis of water samples from the river has declared it unfit for human consumption.
Two men clear dead fish from Ulhas river, near Raita bridge, on Thursday. Analysis of water samples from the river has declared it unfit for human consumption. (Rishikesh Choudhary/HT)

Although a report submitted by the Thane district public health department in April revealed that Waldhuni and Ulhas rivers are highly polluted and their water is unfit for human consumption, data uploaded on the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) website claims the river water in the bund (a small damlike structure) near NRC at Shahad,Kalyan, is not polluted.

Dismissing the data published on MPCB website, environmentalists who have been fighting a legal battle to save Waldhuni and Ulhas rivers said the water in the NRC bund is the most polluted stretch of the Ulhas river.

“The water in bund is polluted because a nullah from Mharal village meets the river at this location. How can the website state the water here is non-polluted? This shows that the MPCB’s study has gone wrong,” said Ashwin Aghor, a senior conservation officer from Vanashakti.

Water from both the rivers is supplied to 30 lakh residents in Ulhasnagar, Thane, Kalyan, Badlapur and Dombivli.

The lab reports revealed that turbidity, chlorides, hardness and dissolved solids were several times higher than the safe limit and the pH level was acidic. The water quality monitored at the NRC bund in 2018 and 2019 shows the quality above 80. As per MPCB website, if the water quality index is between 63 and 100, then the water is non-polluted.

“On the one hand, the website states the water at the bund is non-polluted. On the other hand, the MPCB regional officials from Kalyan division had served a show cause notice to all the civic bodies on May 6. They were asked compliance with the report in 7 days or face legal action for polluting the river,” said Aghor.

On the MPCB website, water quality monitored in 2018 show the average water quality index (WQI) from January to December at 80. The water quality is monitored at different locations along the Ulhas river by the MPCB official from Kalyan through sample collection. Also, the average WQI between January and March 2019 is 80.

“Ulhas creek at Kalyan Reti bunder stinks. A two-minute visit to these sites is enough to ascertain that water here is polluted,” said Shyam Lal, 39, a resident of Khadakpada in Kalyan (West).

DB Patil, MPCB regional office from Kalyan, said he is unaware of the data published on MPCB website. “There are dedicated officials for the job and they’ll be able to explain better,” he said.

It was Patil who had issued show cause notices to Kalyan-Dombivli, Ulhasnagar, Ambernath and Badlapur corporations, asking them to send a compliance report in seven days on measures taken to curb pollution at Ulhas river or face legal action.

When asked about the action initiated against the civic bodies for non-compliance Patil said, “We won’t initiate legal action because the civic bodies are implementing measures to treat sewage in their jurisdiction. The show cause notice is just to check what work they have done so far. We meet every fortnight to take stock take the situation.”

However, Vanashakti alleged that efforts taken by the authorities have failed to control pollution at NRC bund.

“The fact that water hyacinth is flourishing explains how polluted the river is. Can the MPCB officials assure that sewage from Mharal nullah is treated before being released into the river? The nullah meets Ulhas river just a few metres from the NRC bund,” said Aghor.

First Published: May 10, 2019 00:53 IST

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