While Uddhav Thackeray govt stalled a development project to ‘save Aarey’, Shiv Sena-led BMC has now been fined for letting untreated sewage into the water

A nullah in Dharavi which joins the Mithi river

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has slapped the Shiv Sena-led Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) a fine Rs 34 crore for letting untreated sewage into the ocean.

According to the reports, the National Green Tribunal penalised Shiv Sena-ruled BMC and has asked the civic body to pay compensation for causing environmental damage. The civic body has also been ordered to pay Rs 4.25 crore a month to Central Pollution Control Board till they take action against 85 major outfalls that release effluents into water bodies.

If such measures are implemented through bioremediation procedures, then the fine would be reduced to Rs 5 lakh per outfall, the NGT order noted. The NGT has ordered BMC to pay the one-time penalty within the next 30 days.

The NGT passed the order after hearing a plea filed by an NGO named Vanshakti, asserting that the ability to “enjoy pollution-free water and air” is protected by the fundamental right to life under Article 21 of the Constitution.

The NGT panel headed by Justice Sheo Kumar Singh and expert member Dr Satyawan Garbyal pointed out that out of the 186 outfalls in the city, 85 major ones discharge untreated sewage directly into water bodies and only six of them are above the high tide line.

One fourth of the sewage produced in Mumbai enters sea, says expert

A study done by Darshan Sansare, principal investigator and research scholar, reveals that Mumbai produces 2,200-2,400 million litres per day (MLD) of sewage of which only 1,500 MLD is treated at the seven STPs. He added that private units treat some of the remaining sewage at hotels and housing complexes and yet at least 25 per cent of the total sewage enters water bodies untreated.

Prior to imposing fine, the National Green Tribunal’s (NGT) had earlier directed the Maharashtra government to offer an in-depth report on the whole amount of garbage collected at mangroves coupled with a plan to eliminate them inside six weeks.

In July, the Forest Department’s Mangrove Cell had estimated that there could possibly be round 50,000 tons of plastic waste at around 6,600 hectares of Mumbai’s mangroves. It had also said that the rivers and the creeks together with the ocean are threatened by plastic waste that’s discarded by the individuals.

Reportedly, BMC runs seven sewage treatment plants (STPs) at Bhandup, Ghatkopar, Versova, Malad, Colaba, Worli and Bandra, which are at least 17 years old. The BMC was planning to add seven sewage treatment plants along the coast to its existing network for more than 15 years.

NGT order rapping Shiv Sena comes after Aarey controversy

The scathing attack by NGT against Shiv Sena-led BMC over its inability to handle sewage waste in the city comes weeks after the Shiv Sena-led government had taken another decision to shift the metro car shed from Aarey milk colony to Kanjurmarg citing ‘environmental damage’ to Aarey forest area.

The Uddhav Thackeray-led govt, in a vindictive order, had declared the Aarey area where the metro car shed was planed as ‘forest land’, and had shifted the facility to a government land in Kanjurmarg. The decision to shift the metro car shed came after several left wing activists and Sena prince Aaditya Thackeray had expressed their disapproval for the construction of metro shed at Aarey.

Even though the metro project will result in substantial improvement in environment by removing lakhs of fossil fuel guzzling vehicles from the roads, the project was opposed due to political reasons.

The decision to shift the metro car shed from Aarey to Kanjurmarg will now increase the cost of the project by at least Rs 4,000 crore, which was estimated by a committee appointed by the current government. Further, the project will also be delayed by several years due to ongoing litigation and the condition of the new site.

OpIndia Staff: Staff reporter at OpIndia