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Dismal picture of Maharashtra's environment

The water supply data in rural areas

By Nidhi Jamwal
Published: Wednesday 15 August 2007

-- (Credit: SHYAMAL)Almost 75 per cent sewage treatment plants in Maharashtra run without valid consents, reveals Maharashtra's State of Environment Report, 2007. The report, a public document released by Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (mpcb), outlines present conditions and some future projections on environment. Prepared by the Mumbai-based Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research, the report is based on data studied against parameters such as water, air, noise and forests etc. However, there are concerns that some of the data are outdated--data on wastewater generation, for instance, is 10-year old. It also lacks trend analysis and fails to make proper projections.
Sewage, water supply The report says about 99 per cent of sewage generated by municipal councils and over 50 per cent sewage discharged by municipal corporations goes untreated into either of three major river basins--Godavari, Tapi and Krishna. Wastewater generated from Latur, Ahmednagar and Nanded is 20 mld (million litres per day), 22 mld and 25.6 mld, respectively.

The water supply data in rural areas is for the year 2000, showing only 55 per cent villages and 64 per cent hamlets have a per capita water supply of more than 40 lpcd (litres per capita per day).

Wide disparities, however, exist between supply in urban and rural areas. Mumbai has a maximum average water supply of 200 lpcd but even within the city, the slum areas barely receive 90 lpcd and the well-off areas get 300-350 lpcd (see table: How even?).
Pollution Increase in vehicles is the reason of growing pollution in the state, the report states. Maharashtra Pollution Control Board's monitoring results for 2005-06 show that levels of respirable suspended particulate matter and suspended particulate matter exceed in more than half the locations monitored. The monitoring report has found that two-wheelers constitute major share (69.32 per cent) of vehicles in the state followed by four wheelers at 13.37 per cent. Pune region alone accounts for about 20 per cent of the total vehicles in the state followed by Greater Mumbai at 13 per cent. Further, two wheelers and four wheelers (except taxis) constitute 81 per cent of the total vehicles in Greater Mumbai.

Clearly, private vehicles take up more and more road space at the cost of public transport.
Solid waste The section on solid waste in the report puts together available data on municipal solid waste (msw), hazardous waste , electronic waste and biomedical waste. Maharashtra generates over 16,000 tonnes per day of msw, of which almost 50 per cent is generated by Mumbai :7,000 tpd. Pune generates 2,123 tpd, while Thane generates 880 tpd of msw. According to the projections made by Nagpur-based National Environmental Engineering Research Institute, msw in the state is estimated to increase to 8.05 million tonnes by 2011 and 11.77 million tonnes by 2021. Electronic waste generation is already at 20,270.6 tonnes per annum.

Hazardous waste generation is pegged at 1.4 million tonnes annually (50 per cent of the total hazardous waste generated in the country) with Thane, Ratnagiri and Raigad generating the maximum amounts. The report also claims that Maharashtra produces almost 60 per cent (31.5 tonnes per day) of the total biomedical waste produced in the country.
Forests and biodiversity The report has taken Forest Survey of India's (fsi's) data to show a dramatic increase in the state's forest cover; from 30,740 sq km in 1980-82 to 47,482 sq km in 2001. The data, however, has questionable basis.Down to Earth

Down To Earth had earlier analysed fsi's data and found gaping holes in the forest cover figures (see 236,800 hectares more, Down To Earth, May 15, 2003). Moreover, the report has made recommendations, which are way too general--check urbanisation, coordination between agencies, forge public private partnerships, for instance.

Overall, however, the state of environment report makes for a good beginning with much scope for improvement though. It is also to be seen if this report with be updated annually. Only then will it be a fruitful exercise.

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