Pollution

Untreated effluents released in Mumbai rivers, industries flout norms: Report

The Ulhas and its tributary Waldhuni are among 53 of the most polluted rivers in Maharashtra

 
By Shreya Verma
Last Updated: Monday 15 June 2020
Effluents in river Ulhas turned its water turquoise blue, according to a report Photo: Shreya Verma
Effluents in river Ulhas turned its water turquoise blue, according to a report Photo: Shreya Verma Effluents in river Ulhas turned its water turquoise blue, according to a report Photo: Shreya Verma

Untreated effluents discharged in the Ulhas river in Mumbai’s Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC) area turned the water turquoise blue, according to a report submitted to the Supreme Court by non-profit Vanashakti on June 12, 2020. The effluents were discharged in Sonarpada and Dombivli.

The water of Ulhas' tributary, the Waldhuni had turned black and red in some areas, revealed an inspection on June 12 by Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPPCB) officials.

The Ulhas and Waldhuni are among 53 of the most polluted rivers in Maharashtra and 351 of the most polluted ones across the country, according to the Central Pollution Control Board. Ulhas supplies drinking water to over three million people in Maharashtra’s Badlapur-Thane belt.

Untreated effluents continued to be discharged at unauthorised locations by industries in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR). These untreated effluents enter storm water drains and pollute a 1.5-kilometre-long stretch of the Ulhas.

A stream that passed through Dombivli carried effluents to the river’s main channel, said a complaint filed with the state’s environment department and the  (MPPCB) on June 13.

The MPPCB said they initiated an investigation into the source of pollution. A team was also directed to undertake a site visit on June 15 and submit a report on the alleged violations.

“Necessary action will be taken based on the report,” said SL Waghmare, regional officer (Kalyan), MPCB.

Kalidas Bandekar, MIDC superintendent engineer for MMR said they identified a textile industry that released its effluents in the river belt using finishing dyes.

“The frequency of violations have risen. Only essential industries are being allowed to function and this industry is not one of them,” said Bandekar.

Untreated industrial effluent was released into the Waldhuni river by the MIDC in Ambernath and Anand Nagar, leading to a river segment turning black.

Earlier this year, the MPPCB issued closure notices to seven firms for violating water pollution norms in the same areas.

In May, MPPCB fined a private common effluent treatment plant (CETP) for Rs 5 lakh for allegedly releasing untreated industrial waste into the Waldhuni, which turned red last week due to pollution.

The red colour was spotted in several sections of a nine-kilometre stretch of the Waldhuni, which supplies water to cities in MMR.

The CETP is run by an association of local industrial units. Twenty-two pharmaceutical, textile, food processing and chemical industries were functional during the nationwide lockdown, according to CETP operators.

These units, in turn, sent effluents to the CETP.

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