Maharashtra’s common effluent treatment plants fail to meet standards

Tuesday 26 November 2013

Latest weekly report of state pollution control board says only seven CETPs meet standards for treated effluent water

The Maharashtra State Pollution Control Board (SPCB) has found that common effluent treatment plants (CETPs) operating in the state are ineffective. The latest weekly monitoring report of the board says that CETPs in the state are not meeting required standards. The weekly monitoring system of CETPs was put in place after an order of Bombay High Court in November last year.

Parameters like pH value, biological oxygen demand (BOD) and chemical oxygen demand (COD) of the treated effluent water are used by the board to ascertain the level of pollution.  The permissible pH range is between 5.5 and 9. The standard BOD should be around 30 mg/l. Biological oxygen demand is an indicator of oxygen available in water. High BOD values indicate polluted water—the water has less oxygen. Normal river water has a BOD of 5mg/l. The standard COD (chemical oxygen demand) is 250 mg/l. This is a measure of organic pollutants in the water.

The report has revealed that the treated effluent of only seven CETPs meet norms. The CETP at Butibori MIDC, ACMA, Chikholi-Morivali, Ambarnath and Thane-Belapur, all in Thane district, Kurkumbh in Pune and Waluj in Aurangabad meet the norms while the remaining sixteen do not. Ichalkaranji Textile Development Cluster in Kolhapur and Green field CETP plant in Solapur are the worst when it comes to complying with the standards, says the weekly report. (See graph)

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The Bombay High Court directions followed a petition filed two years ago by the residents of the state, alleging that CETP plants are not meeting standards. The petition sought a ban on all new industries in these industrial clusters till the CETPs start functioning properly. The high court had passed many interim orders for regulating CETPs in the state. The court during its initial hearings noted that the regional officers have taken strict actions like plant closure on non compliance. But these orders got diluted by the senior officials when they interfered and levied fines as a solution when the companies filed appeals.

In December 2011, the court said senior officials should pass strict orders instead of levying fines. The court also made CETP operators more accountable. They were ordered to take the responsibility of filing reports on polluting industries to SPCB (see ‘Timeline of CETP case’).

Timeline of CETP case in Bombay High Court

Date

Status of case

December 2011

Court directs  Maharashtra state pollution control board (SPCB) to test treated water samples from the CETPs

March 1, 2012

8 industries in Mahad served closure notice. Court says non operation of CETP/ ETPs/ pipeline means industries must stop operation in Mahad

March 30, 2012

Court orders a joint meeting between SPCB, industrialists and NEERI to curb pollution from CETPs

May 10, 2012

SPCB asked to submit performance and action taken reports of CETPs in the state

July 5,2012

Court places more accountability on CETP operators. They are ordered to take the responsibility of filing reports on polluting industries

November 20, 2012

SPCB asked to disclose weekly reports on treated effluent standards online

December 13, 2012

Court says it will review CETP performance

Till March 2013

Court has reviewed various CETPs’ performance



At present, the SPCB regional offices are monitoring twenty three CETPs in the state and putting data out in the public domain.

The website discloses the status on quality of treated effluents over a period and also provides information like the capital investment, amount of effluent treated and period of establishment of the plant. At present, the state has 26 CETPs, of which only 23 are operating. The total effluent treatment capacity of these plants is 208.05 mld (million litres per day). The total capital investment on these plants is a little over Rs 170 crore. More than 8,015 member industries in industrial areas of the state send their effluent to these plants.

Based on the report, an SPCB-appointed committee recommends further action on defaulters. Committees have been set up as per court orders in five industrial estates of the state.

A pollution control board officer who does not want to be named says, “We issue directions for effective operation of CETPs. They are bound to follow orders because the case is still being monitored by court. They have also submitted bank guarantees. In our office itself we have collected nearly Rs 20 lakh. So it is unlikely that they would violate standards.”

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