Residents of Govandi have sent a legal notice to Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) on Friday, for failing to take action against a biomedical treatment plant in Deonar, which has been throwing up thick smoke for the since July. Months after suffering from health problems due to the city's only biomedical waste treatment plant in the area, the residents have complained that MPCB has failed to act on their complaints, despite CPCB's direction.
The city is generating twice the amount of biomedical waste after the pandemic hit the city, but has only one treatment facility to process it. The treatment plant of SMS Envoclean Private Ltd. in Deonar has been throwing up thick smoke for the past few months, allegedly leading to respiratory problems and skin related ailments among the residents of Govandi and Deonar.
Residents even took to Twitter and other social networking sites to reach out to the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), which had directed the MPCB to take appropriate action.
"My client and other residents in the area have been complaining to officials since July 2020. There is no particular time in the day when the smoke emits. We see the chimney throwing out the smoke all the time. We even reached out to Environment Minister Aaditya Thackeray seeking intervention in the matter. However, no concrete action has been taken against the company and the problem persists," said Advocate Saif Alam, who is representing the residents.
The notice clearly states that if the MPCB fails to take action against the company in the next few days, the group of residents will move the National Green Tribunal (NGT) against them.
Faiyaz Shaikh, a social activist and complainant said, "The death rate in the area due to Covid19 has been 8.9 percent since last month. The ward M East (Govandi, Deonar) is a TB hotpot of the city; scores of people have been diagnosed with asthma. Above all that now they have to suffer the thick smoke from the company, aggravating their health problems. We even put out videos on social media, where one can clearly see thick black smoke emitting out of the chimney. Following our Twitter posts and complaints CPCB directed the MPCB to take action against the violators and asked for an Action Taken Report (ATR) but it was not generated by the MPCB. We are left with no option but to take legal assistance in the matter."
Govandi is known for the 132-hectare Deonar dumping ground, which is in the backyard of thickly populated shanties with a warren of narrow bylanes. A part of the M-East Ward, this section is the poorest part of the city and also one of the worst-hit by Covid-19.
It covers over than 250 slums pockets. The Deonar dumping ground alone processes around 2,500 tonne of garbage every day. SMS Envoclean company is located hardly a few kilometres away and has been authorised by the BMC and the MSPCB to treat biomedical waste since 2009.
Every day, several trucks from various quarantine and medical facilities come to the area to dispose of the biomedical waste, which if not treated properly could pose a health hazard.
When approached, Pundalik Mirashe, Assistant Secretary - MPCB Environmental Information Centre said, "There is no way action is not taken. Once the complaint is received, we do investigate and take action. We will have to look into the matter, what came out in this case.
Meanwhile Regional Officer, MPCB, Mumbai, Dr Ananr Nana Harshavardhan could not be reached for comments, despite several phone calls.
(To receive our E-paper on WhatsApp daily, please click here. To receive it on Telegram, please click here. We permit sharing of the paper's PDF on WhatsApp and other social media platforms.)