Maharashtra Rivers Review 2017: Multi-colored Rivers!

About Rivers Pollution and Pollution Control Board

Highest number of polluted rivers Maharashtra state has 49 polluted river stretches, highest in the country, which including Mithi, Ulhas, Vaitarna, Godavari, Bhima, Krishna, Tapi, Kundalika, Panchganga, Mula-Mutha, Pelhar and Penganga. 3,000 MLD of untreated sewage and industrial effluents are discharged into the state’s water bodies daily. http://www.hindustantimes.com/mumbai-news/pollution-in-three-maharashtra-rivers-is-nine-times-permissible-limit/story-RCuTrl8zi8tmFoOvgKR2zI.html(Hindustan Times, 16 Nov. 2017) 

According to a report by Union Environment Ministry, Maharashtra generates about 8,143 Million Liter per Day (MLD) which is almost 13 per cent of the country’s sewage, butclaims to treats 5,160.36 MLD.In this way Maharashtra is releasing at least 3000 MLD untreated sewage in rivers, creeks and wetlands areas. http://www.hindustantimes.com/mumbai-news/834-factories-across-maharashtra-shut-down-in-2-years-for-causing-pollution-mpcb/story-MrmmXa9XH9Vdkzu2wKSdcL.html (Hindustan Times, 22 Dec 2017)

But seems like these are gross under estimate. Firstly, it assumes that the existing treatment capacity of 5160 MLD is functioning as per design. In reality, this capacity is likely to function at less than 50%. Secondly The figures given imply that population outside Mumbai is generating just around 51 LPCD (litres per capita per day) sewage or using just around 65 LPCD water, which again is gross under estimate, considering that Mumbai uses around 170 LPCD water. https://www.hindustantimes.com/mumbai-news/3-000-million-litres-of-sewage-enters-maharashtra-waters-daily-says-environment-ministry-report/story-7ojia9Yj2gTXfn7quPTzZP.html(Hindustan Times, 25 Sept. 2017)

In Nov. 2017, a RTI reply has revealed that pollution levels in Mithi in Mumbai, Mula in Pune and Kundalika in Roha, Raigad district has gone up 9 times higher than acceptable limits. Mumbai generates 2500 MLD sewage of which 600 to 700 MLD enters Mithi without treatment.  Pune generates 700 MLD of sewage, report claims, of which 600 MLD is claimed to be treated and at least 100 MLD is discharged directly into the MulaMutha rivers.  Less than 100 MLD of sewage is generated by small towns along the Kundalika River, of which 2-3 MLD sewage enters the river without being treated. The report also says that most of its pollution comes from industrial wastes. http://www.hindustantimes.com/mumbai-news/pollution-in-three-maharashtra-rivers-is-nine-times-permissible-limit/story-RCuTrl8zi8tmFoOvgKR2zI.html (Hindustan Times, 16 Nov. 2017) 

Mithi river recorded BOD (biological oxygen demand) of 250 and above between January and May. High levels of BOD indicate concentrated untreated sewage.
Mithi river recorded BOD (biological oxygen demand) of 250 and above between January and May. High levels of BOD indicate concentrated untreated sewage. (Praful Gangurde)

According to a 2015 report of the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) Maharashtra state with India’s biggest economy, also has the highest number of polluted river stretches in the country. And, at 161, it also has the most number of cities and towns along polluted stretches.

Of the 156 locations where the CPCB has set up its monitoring units on the 49 rivers and tributaries in the state, 153 do not meet the water quality criteria, according to the CPCB. The MPCB has issued more than 5,300 show-cause notices to erring factories between 2011 and 2017. Toxic waste has been choking the state’s rivers, and fishing communities complain that their daily catch is only 10% of what it used to be.

The report also says that of 5 Common Effluent Treatment Plans (CETPs) in the Dombivli-Ambernath belt, 4 were not working according to a March 2016 affidavit submitted by the CPCB to the National Green Tribunal (NGT). Three years before that, in 2013, the level of pollutant in treated effluent was found to be “dangerously high” at three CETPs in Pune. Of the 24 plants, 11 are not following the environmental norms, the Maharashtra Pollution Control Boards (MPCB) own latest report on the status of CETPs, available on its website, shows. Data for one plant were not available. http://www.business-standard.com/article/current-affairs/maharashtra-s-factories-making-its-rivers-filthy-pune-worst-offender-117051000174_1.html (Business Standard, 10 May 2017)

In June 2017 the MPCB started a rating scheme & graded 23 industries in the state as the most polluting ones (one or two stars), it awarded the ‘least polluting’ status (four and five stars) to 47 industries. As per the report, Maharashtra has more than 75,000 industries, with 12,500 emitting high pollution levels. https://www.hindustantimes.com/mumbai-news/study-identifies-23-most-polluting-industries-in-maharashtra/story-7lXZqAHxF04sE29nd2SxQN.html (Hindustan Times, 26 June 2017)

As per a report, MPCB has not used 80 per cent of funds given for environment protection. In 2015-16, it got Rs393.8 crore from the govt but it spent only Rs68.26 crore. In 2016-17, of the Rs350 crore it got, only Rs80 crore was spent. For 2017-18, the department has set a budget of Rs150 crore.

The agency was also found grossly understaffed and poorly equipped as there were 249 vacant posts. Of a total of 840 openings, only 591 were filled. Fifteen posts of regional officer across the state were vacant, 36 of sub-regional officers and 32 of regional inspectors were also empty.

The department had few scientific officers to analyse environmental issues in Maharashtra. While there was a principal scientific officer, the posts of the senior scientific officer, junior scientific officers and junior scientific assistants all were vacant. https://www.hindustantimes.com/mumbai-news/maharashtra-pollution-board-high-on-funds-low-on-staff-equipment/story-tFBMlZxzVvZtxQM881ANiM.html (Hindustan Times, 26 June 2017)

Taking cognizance of the issue, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) asked MPCB to explain why it hasn’t used 80 per cent of the funds allotted to bring pollution under control in 2015-17. The NHRC directed the Maharashtra State Human Rights Commission (MSHRC) to file a report within three months. https://www.hindustantimes.com/mumbai-news/ht-impact-why-aren-t-you-using-funds-to-clean-up-maharashtra-nhrc-asks-anti-pollution-board/story-9lLPW8buPhegsj3IAtG0XJ.html (Hindustan Times, 26 June 2017)

In a related development, same month, the State Govt approached the Supreme Court (SC) against NGT directive asking Pollution Control Board chiefs to stop working in ten states including Maharashtra for not being qualified enough. In its affidavit, the MPCB submitted the qualifications of the current chairperson, Satish Gavai, to the apex court, saying that he was fit to head the agency. This was after the NGT order on June 7 that directed the chairman to stop exercising powers over the board. https://www.hindustantimes.com/mumbai-news/maharashtra-moves-sc-against-ngt-over-appointment-of-pollution-board-chief/story-uiPlMDvDwDGju1QyDd1vsM.html (Hindustan Times, 27 June 2018)

In Dec. 2017, in a RTI reply the MPCB stated that it has shut down 834 polluting factories over the last two years. The 834 factories, mostly chemical or pharmaceutical units, included 49 in Pune, 380 in Ulhasnagar, 170 in Ambernath and Dombivli, 81 in Tarapur, 23 in Chiplun, seven in Taloja, and 8 in Patalganga, Roha and Mahad each. http://www.hindustantimes.com/mumbai-news/834-factories-across-maharashtra-shut-down-in-2-years-for-causing-pollution-mpcb/story-MrmmXa9XH9Vdkzu2wKSdcL.html (Hindustan Times, 22 Dec. 2017) 

Government Efforts

Govt mulled to auction rivers water to garner revenueIn May 2017, Maharashtra Govt thought of bringing all rivers in the state under its ambit to regulate their waters. The intention was to start auctioning the fisheries in rivers so as to earn revenue from fisheries and boost pisciculture in fresh waters. The plan also included taking possession of PazarTalav (percolation ponds used for fisheries) which are currently regulated by the ZillaParishad. As per report Maharashtra produces 1.5 lakh tons per annum freshwater fish. This has so many implications and doubtful whether the govt has thought through this. http://www.dnaindia.com/india/report-govt-may-regulate-river-waters-auction-it-to-garner-revenue-2434258 (DNA, 11 May 2017)


Govt claims it will enforce stringent laws to tackle river pollution In Sept. 2017, adopting a multi-pronged strategy to tackle river pollution, the state govt, while pledging to make higher budgetary allocations, has decided to preserve and rejuvenate the state’s rivers by enforcing stringent laws to prevent dumping of untreated waste and undertaking a plantation drive. Guidelines are being reworked on putting a cap on construction activities along river fronts and following stringent norms. An integrated policy to revive rivers and make them pollution-free is underway. Desilting of rivers that have shrunk has also been included in the plans.

– A senior secretary said: “CM is keen on pushing a holistic policy involving the Ministry of Urban Development, Ministry of Environment, Ministry of Water Resources and Ministry of Finance. The state govt believes that tackling river pollution cannot be confined to a handful of rivers. Instead, they should launch the project across all the rivers in Maharashtra.”

– The state govt’s approach is to tackle pollution in all the 302 rivers across 36 districts. There are 49 major river stretches, which are the most-effected, including the Krishna, Godavari, Tapi, Wardha-Wainganga, Panchganga, Koyana, Mula, Mutha and Pravara. The state govt is pushing public-private partnership modules to raise funds for the river rejuvenation projects.

– As per CM almost 85 per cent of river pollution is caused due to untreated sewage and not industrial effluents. Therefore, we have to make sewage treatment mandatory. Untreated sewage cannot be allowed to flow into the rivers.”

-The water resources proposal under consideration suggests the recycling of water for agriculture and treatment of water by local bodies before allowing it to flow into rivers. However, the state government’s foremost concern is to make sewage treatment commercially viable.

-Allowing municipal corporations and councils to sell treated water to industries and for agriculture is also recommended. It is expected to help recover the cost of operating sewage treatment plants and also create funds that could be utilised for river preservation.

KEY Message: Water expert Madhav Chitale:“The river cleaning drive cannot become a success without the help of local bodies and the participation of villages through which the rivers pass”.This is a welcome step but unscientific and mechanized desilting of rivers could be counterproductive. http://indianexpress.com/article/cities/mumbai/maharashtra-to-enforce-stringent-laws-to-tackle-river-pollution-4847067/(The Indian Express, 17 Sept. 2017)

In Feb. 2017 the Bombay HC asked the State Govt to appoint an expert committee to look into the possible ecological impact of water management schemes including Jalyukta Shivar initiated by the state. A report was sought to ascertain if the implementation of the Jalyukta Shivar Scheme and the River Rejuvenation Scheme could cause large scale destruction of the eco-system. This seems like useful order from HC, hope it takes it to logical conclusion. http://www.dnaindia.com/india/report-appoint-expert-body-to-look-into-water-schemes-bombay-high-court-2314314 (DNA, 7 Feb. 2017)

Meanwhile widening and deepening of streams and rivers continues in the name of Jalyukta Shivar Abhiyan. This could prove disastrous for the river in the long run. http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/mumbai/30-aurangabad-villages-made-tanker-free/article18429660.ece (The Hindu, 12 May 2017)

Mumbai Rivers

Mithi Pollution River foams like Bengaluru lake As per MPCB water quality analysis the Mithi river is the most polluted in the city, almost 13 times the safe limit. Citizens said they spotted foam along the riverbanks in Sakinaka, Andheri and Sahar village in Santacruz. Worried over the situation, Watchdog Foundation filed complaints with the state pollution board and the civic body, highlighting high pollution levels at the river. As per MPCB officials they forwarded the complaint to the storm-water drains (SWD) department of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), who assured them that the river would be cleaned. https://www.hindustantimes.com/mumbai-news/what-is-that-white-thick-foam-at-mithi-river-beware-mumbaiites-experts-say-it-is-dangerous/story-ze2LtwfF2KyP158l9IIZvO.html (Hindustan Times, 27 June 2017)

Earlier, the upper reaches of the river were also found choked with the water hyacinth spread across the river right from Ashok Nagar, Marol Military Road up to Saki Naka Bridge, Andheri, said the NGO. As per report, in 2016 BMC had spent close to Rs30 crore on cleaning Mithi river but it showed little improvement. https://www.hindustantimes.com/mumbai-news/water-hyacinth-is-choking-the-mithi-at-andheri-claims-mumbai-ngo/story-bthTtWXzF91Uj65RmnqLQJ.html (Hindustan Times, 2 June 2017)

Related image

Another assessment by MPCB found the water at the mouth of the Mithi river and Versova beach to be the dirtiest, with pollution levels almost 13 times above the safe limit. As per MPCB, untreated industrial waste pumped out by effluent treatment plants from industrial areas and domestic waste from residential areas are responsible for the high levels of pollution. MPCB officials said 30 per cent of the city’s sewage is not being treated and ends up in the seas through outfalls.

According to the BMC sewage operations department, the city produces sewage amounting to 2,200 to 2,400 MLD. Of this, the civic body treats 1,500 MLD at Bhandup, Ghatkopar, Versova, Malad, Colaba, Worli and Bandra sewage treatment plants (STPs). Of the remaining 700-900 MLD, private STPs are treating some of the sewage at hotels and housing complexes, while the remaining is being dumped in rivers, streams, creeks or directly into the sea. https://www.hindustantimes.com/mumbai-news/water-in-mumbai-s-mithi-versova-beach-dirtiest-mpcb-study/story-3qblpiQmCLn6s4FRLMDIyI.html (Hindustan Times, 27 June 2017)

Mumbai Metro did not take permission for groundwater use As per report, Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation (MMRC) has not obtained permission from the MPCB to extract groundwater for washing at its car shed site in Aarey colony, an eco-sensitive zone.  As per Stalin Dayanand of Van Shakti, the proposed facility is sought to be set up adjacent to the Mithi river and it will worsen the pollution in the Mithi river. http://indianexpress.com/article/cities/mumbai/mumbai-metro-did-not-take-permission-for-groundwater-use-claims-ngo-5060191/ (The Indian Express, 12 Feb. 2018)

Mithi Cleaning Acting upon a complaint, the BMC in July 2017 dredged the river and removed the water hyacinths that were choking it and hindering its flow. As per report, a private builder had dumped close to 200 truckloads of debris in the middle of the river close to Ashok Nagar in Andheri. https://www.hindustantimes.com/mumbai-news/ht-impact-mumbai-civic-body-rids-mithi-river-of-poisonous-white-foam/story-ZyOOyp7rdRuPsneV0KU91K.html (Hindustan Times, 3 July 2017)

MPCB asked residents to install STPs The MPCB said it will direct housing societies that generate more than 20,000 LPD of sewage to install STPs. The MPCB has identified 70 drains that discharge untreated sewage into the 17.8-km-long river. A year-long survey revealed that the river carried waste consisting 90% domestic sewage and 10% industrial effluents. https://www.hindustantimes.com/mumbai-news/mumbai-societies-will-have-to-treat-sewage-before-releasing-it-into-mithi-river/story-aocPfvQFboHNf35iSUJAiJ.html (Hindustan Times, 30 Jan 2018)

Mithi River Development and Protection Authority The Mithi river flows nearly 15 km along Mumbai’s suburbs before emptying into the Arabian Sea. The river started dying in the late ‘70s, when slums and industrial units came up along its banks. The river is now a septic drain. In 2005, after a deluge that caused the choked river to overflow, spreading death and devastation, the government formed the Mithi River Development and Protection Authority. https://www.hindustantimes.com/mumbai-news/cosmetic-measures-will-not-revive-mithi-river-in-mumbai/story-iqiWEhQaFlMyJYPqBEoRZL.html (Hindustan Times, 26 June 2017)

The Mithi River Development and Protection Authority chaired by the Chief minister (CM) has not had a single meeting since Devendra Fadnavis assumed charge as the state’s CM in Oct. 2014.The information was shared by the Mithi River Development and Protection Authority in response to an RTI query.https://www.indiatoday.in/india/story/mumbai-2005-floods-mithi-river-devendra-fadnavis-983780-2017-06-20 (India Today, 20 June 2017)

In Sept. 2017 the State Govt planned to ban plastic carry bags after the Gudi Padwa (Maharashtrian New Year) next year. The issue of plastic waste was in the news during the recent floods in Mumbai. Several fact-finding reports on the July 26, 2005 deluge had blamed plastic bags for blocking storm-water drains in the city. http://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2017/sep/13/maharashtra-govt-planning-to-ban-plastic-carry-bags-from-next-year-environment-minister-1656276.html(The New Indian Express, 13 Sept. 2017)

Court Intervention In Sept. 2017, the Bombay HC directed the State Govt, BMC and the MPCB to reply within two weeks over the concerns raised in a PIL on untreated sewage being let into the sea and Mithi River. The court has asked state and civic authorities to file an affidavit within two weeks on the complaints raised in a PIL that has sought direction from the court in order to frame guidelines to stop the pollution of coastal waters of the city. The PIL has been filed by a NGO, Citizen Circle for Social Welfare and Education, through advocate Syed Shehzad Abbas Naqvi. http://gulfnews.com/news/asia/india/concerns-over-polluted-coastline-raised-in-court-1.2083546(Gulf News, 1 Sept. 2017)

PIL in HC seeks steps to tackle sea water pollution In Aug. 2017 a PIL was filed in the Bombay HC by an NGO highlighting the dismal condition of sea water, which is extremely polluted along the Mumbai coastline at Marine Drive, Nariman Point, Girgaum and JuhuChowpatty areas. http://www.dnaindia.com/mumbai/report-pil-in-hc-seeks-steps-to-tackle-sea-water-pollution-2520457(DNA, 3 Aug. 2017)

Kasadi River Pollution: Taloja CETP Issue In Feb. 2017, after MPCB identified that chemical effluents from CETP at Taloja were polluting the Kasadi river, the board have directed to Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC) to cut 40 per cent of the water supply to industrial plants from Feb. 1. According to the letter issued to the industrial plants, earlier they were receiving 24-hour water supply but after MPCB’s directive, the plants would not receive water from 12am to 8am, effective from Feb 1.

After the pollution board identified that chemical effluents from common effluent treatment plant (CETP) at Taloja were polluting the Kasadi river, the Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC) after being directed by Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) cut 40% of the water supply to industrial plants at Taloja from Feb. 1. https://www.hindustantimes.com/mumbai-news/maharashtra-pollution-control-board-cuts-40-water-supply-to-taloja-industries-near-mumbai/story-5jOcJS2894xBv4xFpbn3BO.html (Hindustan Times, 2 Feb. 2017)

Last year, unrelated industrial waste pumped out by an effluent treatment plant in Taloja industrial area, near Mumbai, had raised pollution levels in the Kasadi river to 13 times the safe limit.

In 2016 fishermen from the local Koli community had complained of decline in 90 per cent of fish catch from Kasadi river due to pollution. They had also alleged inaction from the authorities despite several complaints. To highlight their plight, the fishermen then collected water samples in August 2016 from the Taloja CETP pipeline areas discharging treated waste and samples from the banks of the Kasadi river, and submitted them for a water quality test at Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation’s (NMMC) environmental laboratory. The samples were found failing several crucial parameters and having high levels of chloride, which is toxic to aquatic life and impacts vegetation and wildlife. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/navi-mumbai/Taloja-industries-join-fishermen-to-protest-Kasadi-river-pollution/articleshow/51718889.cms (The Times of India, 7 April 2016)

In April 2017, the untreated industrial waste being released into the Kasadi river was suspected to be turning stray dogs near Taloja industrial area blue. The Navi Mumbai Animal Protection Cell took pictures of a dog whose fur had been dyed blue and filed a complaint with MPCB, mentioning that the animals in the area were suffering because dyes were being released directly into the Kasadi river by industrial units. During survey MPCB found that a private company adjacent to the Taloja CETP was using blue dye for multiple purposes, including making detergents. https://www.hindustantimes.com/mumbai-news/industrial-waste-in-navi-mumbai-s-kasadi-river-is-turning-dogs-blue/story-FcG0fUpioHGWUY1zv98HuN.html (Hindustan Times, 17 April 2017)

In Nov. 2017 the MPCB filed a case against officials from the Taloja MIDC’s CETP for polluting Taloja creek by discharging effluents. A case has been lodged against the CETP board and manager under Sections 277, 278 and 432 of the IPC and various sections of the Water Act 1974 on Nov 09. It seems like Good first step but MPCB acted very late, the CETP was dysfunctional since March 2017, also shows failure of MIDC also as it could not repair it so far and also lacked the stand by equipment.https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/thane/case-against-taloja-midc-cetp-for-polluting-creek/articleshow/61609818.cms (The Times of India, 12 Nov. 2017)

In the same month, 6 days after the visit of Environment Minister, 10 members including Board of Directors of the Taloja CETP were booked on Nov 14 over release of untreated industrial waste into Kasadi River near Navi Mumbai. http://www.hindustantimes.com/mumbai-news/maharashtra-govt-blames-effluent-treatment-plant-for-kasadi-river-pollution-books-10-members/story-9GVVGSV3ATDPDVraGHyniM.html (Hindustan Times, 15 Nov. 2017)

According to MPCB, the area has nearly 1,000 pharmaceuticals, food and engineering factories spread across 2,157 acres at the Taloja industrial area in Navi Mumbai. Of these, 347 small and medium-scale industries, mostly comprising chemical, pharmaceutical and food processing, are polluting industries with one CETP treating effluents. http://www.hindustantimes.com/mumbai-news/maharashtra-raps-state-pollution-control-board-for-failing-to-act-against-industries-in-taloja/story-unS6L42fZihLyBYyeceLHO.html (Hindustan Times, 16 Nov. 2017)

As per latest report, CETP at Taloja is rated as the worst-performing among 25 such units in the state. The plant has been pumping out untreated waste into Vashi creek. Given its environmental impact, the MPCB board had sought remedial action by the MIDC however, there has been no improvement in its capacity or maintenance.

The plant can treat effluents with 2,600 mg/l COD but it gets 6,960 mg/l COD, leading to an overload. Units are also accused of not treating waste before sending them to the plant. Arvind Mhatre, a corporator in Panvel civic body, has moved the NGT to seek relief for damage to Kasadi and Ghot rivers due to the plant. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/navi-mumbai/effluent-treatment-plant-in-taloja-most-polluting-in-state/articleshow/63178205.cms (The Times of India, 6 March 2018)

Vaitarna River Igatpuri waste dumped in Mumbai rivers As per August 2017 report, piles of garbage, including medical waste, were being illegally deposited into a tributary of Vaitarna which is a part of the network of rivers that supplies water to Mumbai — in Igatpuri. The water from Vaitarna River and its garbage-tainted tributary reaches the Middle Vaitarna Dam near Kasara. Excess water from the dam is regularly transferred to the ModakSagar and Tansa dams. The three reservoirs collectively supply 300 million gallons of water to Mumbai daily. https://mumbaimirror.indiatimes.com/mumbai/crime/bmc-protests-as-garbage-chucked-by-igatpuri-municipal-council-taints-mumbais-water-supply/articleshow/60252412.cms(Mumbai Mirror, 28 Aug. 2017)

Waldhuni, Ulhas Rivers Waldhuni river turns red due to pollution In Nov. 2017 Ulhasnagar’s Waldhuni river turned blood-red in colour on Nov 3, indicating a high level of pollution. Interestingly, the issue of river pollution has been going on, with the MPCB having submitted an affidavit stating that the pollution level is within permissible limits and activists refuting the same with samples of river water, particularly from the polluted areas. Notably, it was only last month that the SC rapped civic authorities for deplorable condition of the Waldhuni and Ulhas rivers. http://www.asianage.com/metros/mumbai/041117/waldhuni-river-bleeds-despite-claims-of-pollution-control.html(The Asian Age, 4 Nov. 2017)

Supreme Court Ulhas, Waldhuni rivers almost died due to pollution In August 2017, the Supreme Court rapped the state government for allowing the Ulhas and Waldhuni rivers to degrade gradually because of pollution. The apex court also asked the principal secretary, state environment department and member secretary of the MPCB to be present in person during the next hearing on Sept. 18.

The western bench of the NGT in its July 2015 order held Dombivili Industries Association (DBESA), Ulhas Nagar Municipal Corporation, the KalyanDombivili Municipal Corporation, the Ambarnath Municipal Council and others guilty of polluting Ulhas river with untreated effluents. The judgement imposed a penalty of Rs96 crore to restore the river. The SC, however, said that the penalty amounts may not be deposited at this stage.

The court also ordered the two state government officers to appear before the court only after taking stock of the revival plan for the rivers after consulting the director, Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Bombay, concerned authorities from the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI), Nagpur and the National Institute of Oceanography (NIO).

We require their presence because the order passed by the National Green Tribunal (NGT) shows that there is absolutely no coordination between authorities to protect the Ulhas and Waldhuni rivers,” read the order passed by the court.

In 2012, NGO Vanashakti filed a petition with the NGT to direct the MPCB to shut all polluting industries discharging untreated effluents into the Ulhas river.In July 2015, the government agencies moved the Bombay HC, which stayed the tribunal’s order of depositing the fine. On July 5, the SC passed an order staying the HC judgement. The apex court on July 17 directed the respondents to pay the fine and said that the civic bodies and the industries have the option of either filing a review in NGT or take the matter to the SC itself, within three weeks. The respondents chose the latter. The current SC order was in light of a special leave petition filed by Vanashakti in the SC, challenging the HC’s decision. http://www.hindustantimes.com/mumbai-news/ulhas-waldhuni-rivers-have-almost-died-due-to-pollution-sc-tells-maharashtra-government/story-I8RPKcdr6Q5wOpJdCL8cvO.html(Hindustan Times, 17 Aug. 2017)

In Oct. 2017, the SC rapped the state government yet again regarding inadequate efforts taken to check pollution at the Ulhas river and has directed the state chief secretary and municipal commissioners from Ulhasnagar, Kalyan Dombivili, the Ambarnath and Badlapur Municipal Corporations to be present in person during the next hearing scheduled on Nov 14 and respond regarding steps being taken to restore the river. http://www.hindustantimes.com/mumbai-news/revival-of-ulhas-river-supreme-court-summons-maharashtra-secretary-municipal-chiefs/story-ZLFLmTAQq3m2xBD03XfxAO.html (Hindustan Times, 7 Oct. 2017)

SC fined Govt Rs 100 cr for Ulhas, Waldhuni pollution without delay In a landmark decision, SC, in Nov. 2017 imposedRs 100 crore one of highest compensation to be paid by a govt against environmental violations. The verdict came on the PIL filed by Vanashakti. http://www.livelaw.in/will-pay-rs-100-cr-restore-ulhas-walduni-rivers-maharashtra-govt-tells-sc-2-years-ngt-order-read-orders/(Live Law, 16 Nov. 2017)

The SC bench of Justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta also directed the State Chief Secretary SumitMullick to make a decision on the payment then and there in the court without any further delay, after which he agreed, and it was decided that the entire sum will be paid within two months with the first tranche of Rs 50 crore paid within four weeks. http://www.dnaindia.com/mumbai/report-maharashtra-must-pay-rs-100-cr-to-restore-ulhas-without-delay-2560061(DNA, 15 Nov. 2017)

As per another report, the money would be used to set up a sewerage network and effluent treatment plants in Ulhasnagar, Ambernath, Badlapur and Kalyan-Dombivli, all areas that release untreated domestic and industrial waste into the river. Also see the timeline of the Ulhas, Waldhuni pollution case. http://www.hindustantimes.com/mumbai-news/cleaning-of-ulhas-waldhuni-rivers-in-mumbai-sewerage-network-treatment-plants-to-be-set-up/story-wit1BoHrA6q5Ax9ke7AhnO.html(Hindustan Times, 15 Nov. 2017)

Mumbai Rivers Anthem It is good to the CM and wife Amruta singing for the Mumbai Rivers to work towards their rejuvenation with Abhijit Joshi lyrics and Sonu Nigam voice. What action plan does the state govt have for the rivers to achieve this objective? None is visible for now.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=heeghCQPCy4(You Tube, 24 Feb. 2018)

An ‘anthem’ cannot save or rejuvenate Mumbai’s rivers Some useful insights on how to revive Mumbai rivers. Restoring or rejuvenating Mumbai’s rivers has been a sputtering operation, devoid of serious commitment of attention and resources, and lacking a holistic or detailed long-term plan. People-led efforts took off on a modest scale in recent years but they do not – and cannot – substitute official action.

At the core of this lies the unwillingness or inability of governments, municipal commissioners, and planning authorities to comprehend that Mumbai is a peninsula with a unique and complex system of rivers, mangroves, creeks and estuaries. Together, they form a web-like drainage and protection system for a coastal city. The rivers cannot be restored unless this entire eco-system is protected, cared for and urbanisation plans are made around it. https://www.hindustantimes.com/mumbai-news/an-anthem-cannot-save-or-rejuvenate-mumbai-s-rivers-mr-fadnavis/story-KWASqdErOIKlHjEf9hJKfJ.html (Hindustan Times,1 March 2018)

CM should save rivers instead of singing, dancingActivists have highlighted that it was CM DevendraFadnavis’s government that scrapped the River Regulation Zone (RRZ) policy, which was framed in 2000 to protect rivers from pollution. The state policy had restricted industrial development along riverbanks for almost 15 years, and was further amended in 2009 with some stringent norms. But, in 2015, the Fadnavis government had scrapped the policy, claiming it was flawed legally. At the time, activists had pointed out that the policy was within the frame of law, and was according to powers under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986.  https://www.mid-day.com/articles/devendra-fadnavis-should-save-rivers-not-do-a-song-and-dance-say-activists/19130195 (Mid Day, 1 March 2018)

No govt role in financing River Anthem: CMO The video has not been prepared or financed by the Maharashtra government, the Chief Minister’s Office (CMO) clarified. The River Anthem video has been made by a non-government organisation River March, it said. http://indianexpress.com/article/cities/mumbai/devendra-fadnavis-river-anthem-no-govt-role-in-financing-river-anthem-says-maharashtra-cmo-5082343/ (The Indian Express, 1 March 2018)

In a generation, Mumbai forgot its 4 rivers Mumbai’s relation with water is complex, and nowhere is this most apparent than in the metropolis’ treatment of the four rivers – Dahisar, Poisar, Oshiwara and Mithi – which run through it. Over the years, they have come to be ravaged by pollution and urbanisation and scarcely resemble what they once were. It is this transformation that photographer AslamSaiyad wanted to capture in his photo project Discovering.The Forgotten Rivers Of Bombay. https://scroll.in/magazine/831023/photos-in-just-one-generation-mumbai-has-forgotten-that-it-has-four-rivers (Scroll, 17 March 2017)

Pune Rivers

Pune Rivers Pollution Pune rivers bear alarming water quality index In March 2017, the MPCB’s water quality index (WQI) for Dec 2016 revealed that the rivers flowing through the city are extremely polluted. As per experts the WQI numbers may not even be the worst yet, as the data currently available from MPCB is from Aug to Dec months which has effects of Monsoon flow diluting the pollution level significantly. They believe that the numbers will be worse during the summer months of April and May. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/pune/rivers-bear-alarming-water-quality-index/articleshow/57658501.cms (The Times of India, 16 March 2017)

Pune rivers most polluted in Maharashtra The latest MPCB report published in Feb 2017 mentioned that Pune region has maximum number of river stretches where the water quality index is either “bad” or “very bad” due to industrial and domestic pollution. Among the rivers that were found having bad quality of water were Mutha, Pavana, Indrayani and Bhima, all part of the Bhima basin. The Bhima river which brings water into Ujani is one of 49 rivers in the state, whose stretches are found to have high amount of pollutants by CPCB.

A boy looks at foam formation in Mutha River in Pune, India, on Saturday

According to CPCB report, out of the 744 MLD of waste generated by Pune through sewage and other means, 177 MLD of waste is entering the rivers without treatment. The report also mentioned that of the 5,308 notices issued to factories by MPCB, around 2,392 (45%) were from Pune region followed by Kolhapur 673 and Navi Mumbai 476. In most cases, the factories dumping toxic contents into rivers have turned a blind eye as the MPCB has limited powers, claimed MPCB.http://www.hindustantimes.com/pune-news/rivers-from-pune-carry-most-polluted-water-mpcb/story-P9xHpGaTvXmznMo4OkBSiJ.html (Hindustan Times, 29 June 2017)

Citizens worried with little progress on cleaning Pune’s rivers Pune district has five rivers, namely, Mula and Mutha being the main rivers and the three smaller rivers in the form of Ram Nadi, Dev Nadi and Ambil nullah. Pune’s two rivers, Mula and Mutha rivers originate in the Sahyadri ranges and traverse across the city and district. The two rivers further meet and upon their confluence Mula-Mutha river is formed which drains into the Bhima river. The total length of these three rivers traversing through the city is about 44 km. Mutha river has three dams- Khadakwasla, Varasgaon and Temghar while Mula river has Mulshi dam that controls the release of water in the rivers. The rainfall only in the catchment area below the dams finds its way into the rivers.

Although the rivers have a majestic flow during the peak of the monsoons, they are heavily polluted. The Mula-Mutha has been identified by the CPCB among 300-plus polluted rivers in the country. Over the past decades, the condition of the rivers have decayed due to discharge of untreated domestic waste water into the river owing to inadequate sewerage system, dumping of construction material and open defecation on the river banks. https://www.hindustantimes.com/pune-news/citizens-worried-with-little-progress-on-cleaning-pune-s-rivers/story-QGstt9PVbZCT3YpIfxFASM.html (Hindustan Times, 3 Oct. 2017)

In Jan. 2018, AstitavLok Sabha TV program highlighted the issue of pollution in Pune rivers. (Lok Sabha TV, 06 January 2018)

Mula-Mutha Rivers Pollution Untreated sewage, garbage define Mula, Mutha In a three part series, Dying Rivers of Pune; The Indian Express also highlighted the pathetic condition of Pune Rivers. In the first part, the report mentioned that Mula and Mutha has been converted into sewage carriers over the past few decades. Their banks have been encroached by builders and residents and their tributaries have been chocked by channelisation. http://indianexpress.com/article/cities/pune/dying-rivers-of-pune-part-i-untreated-sewage-garbage-define-mula-mutha-4474556/ (The Indian Express, 15 Jan. 2017) 

The second part of Dying Rivers of Pune focused on worsening pollution level in Pavana River, Ram Nadi and Dev Nadi rivers flowing through the city and surrounding suburbs. Like Mula-Mutha, these streams also hade enriching history but like Mula-Mutha, they were lying polluted and untreated.http://indianexpress.com/article/cities/pune/riverside-view-pavana-ram-dev-flow-with-sewage-4476339/ (The Indian Express, 16 Jan. 2017)

Mula Mutha wetlands irreversibly damaged The report highlights dwindling aquatic life in Mula Mutha river. As per the report in 1840, a British scientist had conducted a study on the fishes of Mula-Mutha and found that the water body had 120 species. http://indianexpress.com/article/cities/pune/experts-say-damage-done-to-wetlands-is-beyond-repair-pune-govt-resolution-maharashtra-environment-4875090/ (Indian Express, 5 Oct. 2017)

Rising pollutants turn Pune’s Mutha into a ‘dead’ river As per Jan. 2018 report, the pollution in river Mutha has been consistently rising and has reached alarming levels turning the river into a dead river body at many stretches. http://www.hindustantimes.com/pune-news/rising-pollutants-turn-pune-s-mutha-into-a-dead-river/story-exFrBC7hIg7Ab6bD3uWptO.html (Hindustan Times, 18 Jan. 2018)

Also see the link for Gumrah a 2016 Hindi documentary on Mutha river by INTACH.

The Slow death of a river The photo blog by India Water Portal depict the journey of Mutha river till it joints Mula and becomes Mula Mutha. http://www.indiawaterportal.org/articles/slow-death-river-0 (India Water Portal, 30 Jan. 2018)

Can Pune revive Dr Salim Ali bird sanctuary?The natural bird sanctuary on the Mula-Mutha river bank, that was dedicated to the memory of the great ornithologist Dr Salim Ali nearly two decades ago, is as good as dead now due to neglect by authorities. https://www.hindustantimes.com/pune-news/can-pune-revive-dr-salim-ali-bird-sanctuary/story-ia0sHEmidmsugSpouIehSL.html (Hindustan Times, 28 Feb. 2018)

Government Actions 49 factories in Pune closed for polluting environment In a RTI response filed by MPCB in Dec. 2017 revealed that it had shut down 49 factories, mostly chemical and pharmaceutical units, in Pune during the past two years for large-scale violation of anti-pollution laws and causing damage to the environment.The factories found to be discharging pollutants into the Mula-Mutha river stream.https://www.hindustantimes.com/pune-news/mpcb-shuts-down-49-factories-in-pune-for-polluting-environment/story-XwN6tzMbkhCKGypBYfLwmM.html (The Hindustan Times, 25 Dec. 2017)

Corporation to take steps to check pollution of Mula river The PimpriChinchwad Municipal Corporation (PCMC) will construct 3 STPs of 5 MLD and lay 209-km-long drainage pipeline network in a bid to reduce Mula river pollution. The total cost of the project has been pegged at Rs 147.84 crore. The Union government approved the project in October 2017 under Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT) scheme. The share of the central and state governments is 33.33 per cent and 16.67 per cent respectively while for PCMC, it is 50 per cent. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/pune/corporation-to-take-steps-to-check-pollution-of-river/articleshow/62842097.cms  (The Times of India, 8 Feb. 2018)

Mula-Mutha River Development Project In March 2017, the Maharashtra State Budget 2017-18, provided an assistance of Rs 100 crore for reducing the pollution level on Mula and Mutha rivers. The amount was part of the Rs 990 crore project – Pollution Abatement of River Mula-Mutha, for which the Centre had signed a loan agreement with the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) under the National River Conservation Plan (NRCP) in 2015. The total cost of the project – Rs 990 crore – will be shared in the ratio of 85:15 between Central Government and the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) respectively. The Mula-Mutha river was identified by the CPCB among 300-plus polluted rivers in the country. http://indianexpress.com/article/cities/pune/pune-mula-mutha-rivers-get-rs-100-crore-for-clean-up-activists-say-too-late-4576810/ (The Indian Express, 20 March 2017)

Rivers in Pune, Pun's dying rivers, Mula and Mutha rivers. Mutha River, Mula River, pollution in rivers of India, India rivers news, Pollution in Indian rivers, polluting India rivers, Indian rivers story, Latest news, pollution of Indian rivers story, national news, Pollution in India
The Mula, Mutha rivers have been identified by the CPCB among country’s polluted rivers.

PMC ready with Rs 2,618 crore river beautification plan In the first week of July 2017, PMC proposed a Rs 2,618-crore plan to beautify the 44-km of river stretch passing through the civic limits. The project covered both side of 44-km of river stretch passing through the city — including 22.2-km stretch of Mula, 10.4-km stretch of Mutha and 11.8-km stretch of Mula-Mutha river. The plan envisaged creation of nine more STPs apart from 11 existing in the city in addition to construction of Ghats and embankments along Pune rivers. Seems like this is similar to the controversial Sabarmati River Front Development Plan, which was essentially get the land out of the river bed and flood plain for the real estate development.

As per the report, a study had revealed that the Pune rivers were presently a place for dumping garbage, sewage due to haphazard and unthoughtful infrastructure alongside the rivers. About 252 MLD of untreated sewage was being released into them. The report said that the rivers were neglected and remained dry most of the year. http://indianexpress.com/article/cities/pune/pmc-ready-with-rs-2618-crore-river-beautification-plan-4736058/ (The Indian Express, 5 July 2017)

PMC unable to start Mula Mutha project The ₹ 926 crore project (for pollution abatement of river by Jan. 2022) for Mula Mutha River Development was approved by the central govt in Jan. 2016, yet the project has failed to kick-start as the central govt has failed to appoint a consultant for preparing the tender document.  Japan Govt has committed the loan at an interest rate of 0.30 %.  The Mula Mutha river which is passing through Pune city is one of the 302 polluted rivers in the country. Pune could be going the Ahmadabad way in destroying its river if citizens do not stand up. http://www.hindustantimes.com/pune-news/pmc-unable-to-start-1-000-crore-mula-mutha-river-development-project/story-520vTf29yALlm0Tf15J8cP.html(Hindustan Times, 16 July 2017)


In the same month, the annual Environment Status Report again highlighted the worsening condition of rivers in Pune. It found that the level of pollution has increased in the Mula and Mutha river due to rapid urbanisation. http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/pune/environment-report-raises-alarm-over-noise-air-and-river-pollution/articleshow/59836893.cms(The Times of India, 31 July 2017)

No progress in Mula-Mutha project Pune Municipal Corporation has mapped 127 points along the Mula-Mutha river where sewage is released. As per Municipal commissioner Kunal Kumar, to plug the pollution sources, the govt has approved Rs 990.26 crore for the project of which Rs 850 crore will come as grant from the Centre through JICA while PMC will have to make a provision of Rs 150 crore. The project was approved in 2015 and is expected to be completed by January 2022. The Mula-Mutha river is one of the 302 polluted river stretches of the country identified by CPCB a few years ago. The above detail suggests the PMC has so far made no progress in implementing the project on ground. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/pune/pmc-maps-127-spots-where-sewage-enters-mula-mutha/articleshow/61473298.cms(The Times of India, 3 Nov. 2017)

Kolhapur: Panchganga River MPCB cut KMC power supply over Panchganga River pollutionMPCB disconnected electric supply to the Kolhapur Municipal Corporation building for an hour for releasing untreated sewage into the Panchganga river due to a pipeline burst in September. Such an act, under section 33A of the Water Act, 1974, was done earlier in the year 2003. Will these symbolic actions help the river in anyway? https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/pollution-board-cuts-power-at-civic-body-office-as-symbolic-action-for-polluting-river-1793246 (NDTV, 28 Dec. 2017)

Nagpur: Nag River Rs 1,600cr Nag riverfront development (AFD) – French Development Agency- has completed survey of Nag river and is likely to submit detailed project report (DPR) of riverfront development plan in April, according to municipal commissioner Ashwin Mudgal. AFD is likely to provide Rs 1,054.58 crore of total estimated project cost of Rs 1,600 crore. Under this plan, NMC will beautify both sides of Nag river, provide recreation facilities, develop pilgrimage and tourism spots etc.

NMC’s Nag pollution abatement plan of Rs 1,252.33 crore was also approved last year and JICA has started the process to fund that project. The process was on hold for want of a certificate from state govt. Centre will bear 60%, state 25% of the cost while and rest will be borne by NMC in pollution abatement plan.

Nag river’s two plans also include Pili river. CM Devendra Fadnavis had assured to approve Rs 618 crore for rejuvenation of Pora river too. NMC has begun preparing its DPR paving way for rejuvenation of all three rivers in the city in coming days. Total estimated cost of all projects is Rs 3,470.33 crore. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/nagpur/rs-1600cr-nag-riverfront-devpt-dpr-to-be-ready-in-april/articleshow/62125871.cms (The Times of India, 19 Dec. 2017)

Godavari River

Govt Efforts Fine upto Rs 10K for polluting Godavari Nashik Municipal Commissioner Abhishek Krishna has decided to slap penalties anywhere between Rs 5,000 and Rs 10,000 on those found polluting the Godavari. Nasik Municipal Corporation (NMC) also decided to deploy 80 former Armymen on the Godavari river bank to curb pollution. As per the report, the ghats of the Godavari would also be declared a ‘no washing zone’ soon. Notably, in July 2012, the NMC’s standing committee decided to recruit around 25 security guards to avoid pollution in the river. But, the decision did not work out. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/nashik/penalties-up-to-rs-10k-for-polluting-godavari-waters/articleshow/57657871.cms (The Times of India, 16 March 2017)

Court Actions HC asked NEERI to study river pollution one more time The Bombay HC has appointed NEERI yet again to study and suggest long-term and immediate solutions to tide over the pollution of Godavari after Kumbh Mela. It directed the state govt to take a final decision on India Bulls with respect to lifting of treated water from STP before Dec. 11, 2017 and no further extension would be granted. Observing that that there was a letter dated September 5 addressed by the executive engineer, irrigation division to the district collector requesting him to release water from Gangapur dam for the purpose of cleaning and washing away the dirt created by KumbhMela in River Godavari, the court noted that a lot of dirt must have been created during the religious congregation. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/nashik/neeri-asked-to-study-river-pollution-one-more-time/articleshow/57048237.cms (The Times of India, 9 Feb. 2017)

HC asks Govt to submit affidavit on river revivalThe Bombay HC while hearing affidavits of various Govt offices on March 30, 2017 said it was the state govt’s constitutional duty to conserve River Godavari. The high court said all responsibility has been imposed onNMC for making the river pollution-free and conserving it. “Funds were not given for cleanliness and rejuvenation of the river. The chief secretary should submit an affidavit in this regard on April 18,” said the court. The high court has asked the state govt to mention if they were interested in river conservation. After their reply, the court would take a decision. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/nashik/hc-to-state-submit-affidavit-on-river-revival/articleshow/57926015.cms (The Times of India, 31 March 2017)

As per latest report, NMC has set up a special cell to check the rising pollution levels of river Godavari. The NMC will soon put up instruction boards on the ghats and appoint 50 security guards to prevent people from throwing waste in the river.This sounds far from effective or useful, more like a box to be ticked possibly since High Court demanded some action. https://www.indiatoday.in/pti-feed/story/nmc-sets-up-cell-to-curb-godavari-river-pollution-901021-2017-04-02 (India Today, 2 April 2017)

Compiled by Bhim Singh Rawat, SANDRP (bhim.sandrp@gmail.com)

You may also like to see Rivers Review 2017 for other Indian States 

North India Rivers Review 2017: Pollution Poisoning Lifelines

West India Rivers Review 2017: Govts, Industries Destroy Rivers

South India Rivers Review 2017: More Water for Cities from Drying Rivers

Kerala Rivers Review 2017 : Government Efforts Fail To Protect Rivers

Tamil Nadu Rivers Review 2017: Despite Drought; Diversion of Rivers

East India Rivers Review 2017

North East India Rivers Review 2017: Agenda behind Brahmaputra & Barak Fesitvals won’t Help the Rivers

Positive Rivers Stories 2017: Citizens Reconnecting with Rivers

India Rivers Studies 2017: Rivers Succumbing To Dams, Pollution & Climate Change 

3 thoughts on “Maharashtra Rivers Review 2017: Multi-colored Rivers!

  1. Dr. Himanshu Sir,
    Pleased to inform that I joined as
    Director, WATER AND LAND MANAGEMENT INSTITUTE(WALMI), Dharwad, Karnataka. I look forward for working closely with your organisation. Regards
    Sent from my iPhone


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