NGO Vanshakti first took up the issue of unchecked pollution choking Ulhas river with the Maharashtra Green Tribunal (MGT).
“The water is pure till Badlapur after which it gets polluted due to industrial activity in the neighbouring areas. Our objective is to clean up Ulhas river and restore it to its original state,” says Ashwin Aghor of Vanshakti. “There are nearly 400 chemical, textile and pharmaceutical companies in Dombivli, Ambernath, Chikhloli and other MIDCs, which are a major source of pollution.”
Vanshakti officials said they approached MPCB, Kalyan, in 2012, but there was no response. In August 2013, they lodged a complaint with MPCB, Central Pollution Control Board and other agencies. On August 11, Vanshakti and MPCB jointly took samples of chemical effluents released by factories into the nullahs that discharge the waste into the river. “We got the samples tested by Somaiya laboratory of environmental sciences. It was found that the chemical oxygen demand in the sample was 4,000mg/litre instead of 1,000mg/litre,” said Aghor. MGT had on October 16 directed MPCB to take action against the defaulting industries. However, MPCB approached the court, saying its officials were being threatened. On December 16, MGT asked the Thane rural police to give protection to MPCB officials. Armed with the order, the pollution control body has served closure notices on 200 units over the last week.