Mumbai NGO to National Green Tribunal: Put nets on drains to trap plastic waste

Updated: Jan 31, 2018, 11:34 IST | Ranjeet Jadhav | Mumbai

Mumbai NGO approaches National Green Tribunal with this suggestion; court issues notice to several government agencies for widespread pollution

Activists pointed out that clean-up drives will not help unless the authorities put an end to littering at beaches. File pic for representation
Activists pointed out that clean-up drives will not help unless the authorities put an end to littering at beaches. File pic for representation

The regular clean-up drives at Versova beach and the Dahisar and Gorai mangroves are a step in the right direction, but environmental activists warn that it is not nearly enough. Mumbai NGO Vanashakti has now filed a petition with the National Green Tribunal (NGT), suggesting that nets be installed at the end of storm water drains and creeks to prevent plastic waste from drifting into the sea.

NGT issues notice
The NGO filed the petition against several agencies, including the BMC and the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) for failing to collect, process and dispose of solid waste properly. The NGT yesterday issued notices to the civic body and the MPCB, along with the other respondents — the urban development department, environment department and State Mangroves Cell. The agencies have two weeks to respond. Stalin D from NGO Vanashakti said, "The beach clean-up is a good thing to do, but it does not address the source of the problem, from where the plastic litter reaches the sea. The problem will not get solved even if we keep doing the clean-up activities. We have written to various government agencies, including BMC, MPCB, CPCB to come together to address the issue, but not much interest was shown by them."

The petition also states that the situation at beaches is going from bad to worse, as the authorities have failed to formulate strategies to stop littering and open defecation.

Plastic and sewage
Stalin further said, "The authorities need to realise that if the pollution mitigation measures are not undertaken, the mangroves will continue to choke and marsh lands will be filled with non-degradable plastic waste. Saltwater lakes, beaches and wetlands are also being seriously contaminated due to the careless disposal of solid waste — mainly plastic bags. Almost all water bodies in Maharashtra are seriously threatened due to the careless disposal of waste."

"We have suggested the installation of nets in storm water drains to stop solid waste from entering the creeks, water bodies and the sea," he added. The petition further points out that poor functioning of the waste treatment facilities was responsible for the rise in BOD (Biochemical oxygen demand) levels of sea water between 2011 and 2013. BOD is a measure of how much oxygen is required to break down organic material in water – it is a yardstick for the effectiveness of wastewater treatment plants.

Studies suggest that Mumbai generates 2,146 million litres per day (MLD) of sewage, of which only 1,098 MLD is treated. The remaining 1,048 MLD (49%) is discharged into the sea or creeks without being treated.

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