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Mithi River Or A Drain? Bombay HC Directs MPCB To Ensure MCGM Completes Extension Of Sewerage Pipeline To Stop Waste Disposal In Arabian Sea [Read Order]

Nitish Kashyap
16 July 2019 6:24 AM GMT
Mithi River Or A Drain? Bombay HC Directs MPCB To Ensure MCGM Completes Extension Of Sewerage Pipeline To Stop Waste Disposal In Arabian Sea [Read Order]
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Mithi River, a confluence of Vihar and Powai Lake, rises during the monsoon season and is currently more of a sewer than a river. This conclusion is based on Maharashtra Pollution Control Board's data which states that out of the 2671 million litres per day sewerage generated in the city of Mumbai, more than one fourth (665 MLD) was discharged into the said river which then flows directly...

Mithi River, a confluence of Vihar and Powai Lake, rises during the monsoon season and is currently more of a sewer than a river. This conclusion is based on Maharashtra Pollution Control Board's data which states that out of the 2671 million litres per day sewerage generated in the city of Mumbai, more than one fourth (665 MLD) was discharged into the said river which then flows directly into the Arabian Sea.

The irony being that the total capacity of the city's sewerage treatment plants is 2595 MLD, so waste that is being discharged indirectly into the Arabian Sea can be treated at these plants but MCGM has not laid down adequate sewerage pipelines to bring the effluent to the treatment plants before it is discharged into the Arabian Sea.

The Bombay High Court heard a PIL filed by Citizen Circle for Social Welfare and Education seeking remedies for correction of Mumbai's polluted costal water problem.

Division bench of Chief Justice Pradeep Nandrajog and Justice NM Jamdar directed the MPCB to ensure that the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai lays down extension of pipelines in order for all of city's waste to be treated at these plants within a "reasonable period of time."

Advocates Shehzad Naqvi, Reshma Mutha and Sana Khan appeared on behalf of the petitioners. Senior Advocate Anil Sakhare appeared on behalf of MCGM. Advocate Sharmila Deshmukh appeared for the MPCB.

Petitioner's advocates showed photographs of a choked Mithi river to the bench, these photos were taken on Thursday morning. After looking at the photos, CJ Nandrajog said- "It is not a river, it's a drain."

Sakhare did not dispute MCGM's obligation to treat the sewerage generated in the city before it is discharged in the sea. MCGM also does not dispute its obligation to lay sewer lines so that the sewerage generated in the city is brought to the sewerage treatment plants. MCGM's counsel submitted before the bench that a total of 2012 km of sewerage pipeline network is to be laid down but some problems were listed in MCGM's affidavit.

CJ Nandrajog noted-

"The problem is identifiable. The problem is of sewer lines not being laid to bring the entire effluent to the existing sewerage treatment plants which are operating below their capacity."

Whereas, MPCB's affidavit revealed shocking data regarding the lack of sewerage pipeline network in the city even though eight sewerage treatment plants have been set up. 579 MLD of the 665 MLD of garbage waste discharged into the Arabian Sea can easily be treated at the current capacity of sewerage treatment plants.

The PIL highlights MPCB's data which states that the water quality index (WQI) of the sea water in 2017 at Girgaum, Haji Ali and Juhu were 45, 45.2 and 44 respectively. Whereas WQI at Mahim, Worli Sea Face and Nariman Point were 45.2, 46.1 and 46.8 respectively A water sample having WQI between 50-100 is considered non-polluted, while below 50, the water is considered polluted.

The WQI of Mithi River was recorded at 28 which is considered heavily polluted.

Court concluded-

"We dispose of the petition directing the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board to seek quarterly reports from MCGM regarding extension of the existing sewerage pipeline. The Pollution Control Board would ensure that within a reasonable time MCGM connects the sewerage treatment plants to the extended sewer lines meaning thereby the network of sewerage pipelines cover all areas of the city where-from sewerage is generated."


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