Despite the Bombay High Court’s directives to the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) asking it to take action against industries causing pollution, there has been no respite for the small-scale engineering units and the residents of Narhe taluka near Sinhagad Road.
For the past 12 years, they have been filing complaints with the MPCB against large-scale and small-scale private industries in the taluka, whom they have accused of discharging pollutants into the water bodies in their area, but to no avail.
Since no Common Effluent Treatment Plants (CETP) were set up in the taluka by the government, pollutants discharged by the industries are polluting Mutha’s basin, which ultimately flows into the borewells dug by the locals. The problem heightens every monsoon.
There are about 120 small-scale engineering units and up to 400-odd residents in the taluka, who have been fighting against some 500 small-scale and large-scale private industries located in the taluka, Dhayari village, Manik Baug, Vithalwadi and Nanded Phata on Sinhagad Road. Locals claim that the water stinks and is hazardous to their health.
“Despite complaints, the MPCB, and the central ministry have not taken any action against these industries. If we file complaints with the report on the pollution, the industries are charged with penalties and are let off. But there is no permanent solution for this,” the manager of a manufacturing unit located in Dhayari said.
In the past, with the permission of the MPCB, the residents and other traders had surveyed certain industries, which were then listed for discharging pollutants into the water bodies. A report was made, describing the assessment of the polluting materials in the water, which according to the surveyors were exceeding the standard parameters.
“The report was submitted with the Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) and the MPCB, which after consideration, even sent notices to the industries for flouting rules. Due to this, even the habitat of the birds in the area has been affected,” Amulya Pantaki, a resident, said.
MPCB regional officer P K Mirashe said that the board would have to look into the complaints if they weren’t recent. “But if they approach us with a complete report, then we’ll look into it,” Mirashe said.
Last April, the high court had ordered the MPCB to place on record a report indicating the summary of the performance of the CETP and the action taken against the highly polluting industries.
The state environment department is in the process of submitting a proposal to introduce environment tax in the cabinet soon. Environment tax will be levied on any activity that affects environment, like stone-crushing, mining, vehicular pollution, industries and infrastructural projects, and will utilised for activities related to environment protection activities like cleaning of lakes, rivers, setting up information centres, collection of data on air and water pollution.