At a time when the State has agreed to set up an authority to monitor its fast-depleting groundwater, the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) has noted that the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board’s (MPCB) completely failed in controlling water pollution and found the number of deaths from water pollution had gone up from 64 in 2006-07 to 135 in 2010-11, while the number of water-borne diseases had gone up from 3.14 lakh to 21.24 lakh in the same period. (see box).
“This indicated the failure of the authorities in controlling water pollution,” the CAG noted in its report, which was tabled in the legislature last week. It said effluents from industries and the oil and grease spills (off the Mumbai coastline in 2010 and 2011) had adversely affected the coastal waters at Mahim, Thane and Bassein.
The CAG has come down heavily on MPCB for its dereliction of duty in monitoring water pollution. Of the 21 lakes in Navi Mumbai , the RO (regional office at Navi Mumbai) only monitored the water quality in three lakes (Belapur, Airoli, and Nerul) once a year.
The CAG noted that the MPCB had not formulated any framework to identify the sources contributing to water pollution in the state. It found that a majority of the urban local bodies were discharging effluents into water bodies without treatment, which has been made compulsory. Where sewage or water treatment plants existed, they were found to be woefully inadequate.
The CAG made a series of recommendations, which include ensuring fixing minimum flow of water in each river, a time-bound action plan to tackle the polluted river stretches, and to strictly adhere to sample collection and testing norms.