No waste treatment plan for Ulhas, Waldhuni: 4 civic bodies face heat

The Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) issued notices on Friday to four municipal bodies in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR) for violating the Supreme Court’s (SC) orders on the restoration of Ulhas and Waldhuni rivers. The Maharashtra government will submit a status report to the SC on July 17, detailing the progress made so far. Ulhas and Waldhuni supply drinking water to more than 30 lakh residents in the Badlapur-Thane belt, but the rivers are full of untreated industrial and domestic sewage.

MPCB pulled up Ulhasnagar Municipal Corporation (UMC), Kalyan-Dombivli Municipal Corporation (KDMC), Ambernath Municipal Council (AMC), and Kulgaon-Badlapur Municipal Council (KBMC), warning them of non-compliance. “Notices have been issued under section 33 of the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974, directing all four civic bodies to implement all short- and long-term measures mentioned individually by them to the SC,” said DB Patil, regional officer, MPCB.

In November 2017, the SC had directed the state to release ₹100 crore so that a sewage network and effluent treatment plants for domestic and industrial waste could be set up along the Ulhas and Waldhuni rivers. So far, none of the targets have been met by the civic bodies tasked with restoring the rivers. Inspections of river stretches were carried out earlier this month. None of the four sewage treatment plants (STPs) that were supposed to be set up along the Ulhas have been fully constructed. While KDMC treats some of the sewage generated and AMC treats majority of its sewage, both civic bodies have failed to meet their long-term targets, like diverting sewer lines.

“On witnessing several polluted stretches including froth development in some stretches of the river, the civic bodies did not leave us any choice but to act against them due to non-compliance of SC orders and environment protection laws,” said Patil. No fines have been levied on the civic bodies since the matter is sub judice. “Restoration efforts have to be expedited to ensure river pollution does not become a health hazard,” Patil said.

An official from the state environment department said, “There has been overall delay in restoring the river, but delay in tendering work for new STPs was also due to Lok Sabha election duty. However, progress reports are being monitored fortnightly by all civic bodies. We expect the situation will improve by July.”

Ulhas and Waldhuni are among 53 rivers from Maharashtra on a list of 351 most polluted river stretches in India, according to the Central Pollution Control Board. “Three of our four sewage treatment plants (STPs) will become functional by the first week of June. Tendering process for the fourth one is underway, and by end June all STPs will be functional to treat 75 million litres (MLD) of sewage daily,” said Achyut Hange, commissioner, UMC.

Petitioners in the matter said it was impossible to restore the rivers by July 17, when the state will submit its status report. “The civic bodies had been given ample time to clean up their act, but hardly any work has happened. We will be seeking severe action against erring corporations and councils,” said Stalin D, director of the non-governmental organisation, Vanashakti.

First Published:
May 28, 2019 04:33 IST

Source: Read Full Article