The state pollution control agency has been directed by the Bombay High Court to submit a report on the quality of water in the state’s rivers after a petition drew the court’s attention to reports that nearly a fifth of the country’s most polluted rivers are in Maharashtra.
The petition has asked the court to set aside a state government resolution passed on July 13, 2009, which relaxes earlier rules prohibiting industry within 500m of a river’s high flood level.
The division bench comprising Justice Mohit Shah and Justice Roshan Dalvi has asked the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) to submit the report by December 16.
Senior legal officer for MPCB Dattatray Devle said the agency has not received copies of the petition and the court’s orders.
“Once we get copies, we will prepare the report,” said Devle.
In an earlier reply to the court, the government had said because of an earlier resolution, dated July 15, 2000, which placed restrictions on industries on river banks, 1,100 hectares of land belonging to the Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC), situated next to rivers, could not be used.
The government said pollution could be tackled through the setting up of common effluent treatment plants. It added that the petitioner had not raised an objection when it issued a public notice on August 9, 2008 inviting objections to the proposed relaxation.
The petitioner, Nicholas Almeida, a Sahar resident and a former municipal corporator, said he was not aware of the public notice.
He said the state government had passed the resolution without considering the issue of pollution.
He claimed that water quality in Maharashtra’s rivers have deteriorated despite claims of setting up effluent treatment plants, with government reports itself saying that rapid urbanisation has led to a deterioration of water quality.