The state government has embarked on a river action plan to combat the pollution caused by untreated industrial waste and sewage across Maharashtra.
Its biggest hurdle, however, is getting the finance ministry to commit a substantial budget to complete the project in a time-bound manner.
To begin with, the state government has already given its approval to the Rs750-crore project. Sources in the finance department, however, said, “The state river action plan will require a massive budget of Rs2,500 crore.”
On its part, the Centre has increased its financial share from 50% to 70 %. Sources in the state finance department said, “The river pollution issue has been overlooked for almost ten years, aggravating the situation. We will have to tackle the issue urgently.”
The state has been reprimanded by the Centre for having the second-most polluted rivers in the country. Maharashtra has 380 rivers stretching along 19,269km, and the major rivers that have become a cause for concern are the Godavari, Krishna, Tapi and Narmada.
In a report, the environment ministry stated that the number of water quality monitoring stations has been increased from 250 to 350 in the year 2011-12. This will help the state not only in assessing pollution levels, but also increasing a baseline for all further interventions.
Sources in the state environment department admitted, “We have prepared a basin-wise action plan for Upper Bhima and Panchaganga river basins. An action plan for the Nagpur river basin is being prepared.”
The state environment study says that partial treatment in phases cannot help in river cleaning, which has to be sustained across the river stretch. As a result, the department has decided to introduce low-cost sewerage treatment technology.