Protesting against the inaction of the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB), NGO Watchdog Foundation along with activists from Taloja, Mahad and Tarapur, gathered outside the MPCB office in Sion to highlight the deplorable condition of the state’s rivers.
Out of the 150 polluted riverine stretches in the country marked by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), 28 are in Maharashtraha, the largest number recorded in any state. Pollution levels have been identified as exceeding the water quality criteria in these areas. Immediate need of remedial action has been suggested by the CPCB report.
Twenty eight samples of water, collected from rivers and beaches around Mumbai and its outskirts, were presented to the MPCB to show the extent of damage uncontrolled industrial and domestic discharge has done to these lifelines.
“Industrial areas of Tarapur generate 50 million litres of waste water. However, only 25 million litres are treated since that is the capacity of the Common Effluent Treatment Plant (CEPT) there.
The rest is discharged into the water bodies untreated. We can see dead fish in places like Dahisar and have pictures which clearly show the difference in the colour of water near the industrial outlets at Mahad,” said Godfrey Pimenta, an advocate and the founder of Watchdog Foundation, which filed a PIL against river pollution in 2011.
The activists at the protest questioned the MPCB about their lax behavior towards violators of the environment laws which they are mean to protect. The activists demanded strict monitoring of water quality in various areas by the field officials.
Monitoring of water quality by the Common Effluent Treatment Plants (CETPs) in their respective areas is very weak. It was found that the pollution levels were marginally above the prescribed level at most places and highly above the prescribed level at three areas, including the Taloja CETP which showed the level to be 1,200mg/L which is 950mg/L above the standard.
However, MPCB officials denied any abnormality in their water quality assessment at the CETPs and cited lack of manpower as one of the shortfalls in monitoring industrial pollutants. “We have already taken action against 58 small industries in Tarapur. We are not slacking. We don’t know where they have brought this water from, which point it was collected, nothing,” said DC Devle, a senior official. “We do have a shoratge of manpower. Out of the 570 sanctioned posts, 418 are yet to be filled due to budgetary constraints.”
Industrial areas of Tarapur generate 50 million litres of waste water. However, only 25 million litres are treated since that is the capacity of the Common Effluent Treatment Plant (CEPT) there. The rest is discharged into the waters untreated.