The National Green Tribunal (NGT) imposed an additional Rs 2.1 crore fine on the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) as compensation for environmental damage for partial treatment of sewage. The NGT has summoned the municipal commissioner to be present at the next hearing.
The NGT passed the order on Friday, after Vanashakti, a city-based NGO, filed an execution plea against the BMC in June 2021. It was then noted that six of the sewage treatment facilities at Worli, Bandra, Versova, Malad, Bhandup and Ghatkopar did not comply with the parameters set for treatment of sewage and discharge.
Only one sewage treatment plant in Colaba complies with environmental norms. The remaining seven have not complied fully, and the BMC has stated that it would need another four to five years to set up fully-complying facilities
In October 2020, the NGT had slapped a penalty of Rs 29.75 crore for discharging untreated effluents into water bodies. Besides, the BMC was also ordered to pay Rs 4.25 crore per month as penalty to the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) till the civic body was undertaking the treatment of sewage water. Following this, the BMC had moved the Supreme Court against the NGT order, but no stay was granted. According to Zaman Ali, advocate for Vanashakti, the BMC hasn’t paid the penalty amount levied last October.
“Rs 2.1 crore fine imposed on July 16 will add up to the previous amounts. The BMC was supposed to pay the fine amount every month and today the total fine amount stands somewhere close to Rs 50 crore,”
Ali told FPJ on Saturday. According to Stalin Dayanand, director of Vanashakti, a plea was filed back in 2017 against the BMC for discharging untreated sewage water in water bodies and mangroves.
“Even after the NGT order, the BMC didn’t bother to improve its facilities, nor did it install nets at the drainage outlets. It hasn’t even paid the fine amount. I have caught BMC trucks discharging cement into the creeks twice,” Stalin told Free Press Journal on Saturday.
Stalin added that the BMC did not file any leave petition in the SC against the NGT order. He said, “Instead they filed a civil appeal and left it. When Vanashakti filed an execution application (contempt) in NGT, the BMC moved its application in the SC.
The SC issued notice to all parties, but did not grant any stay of the NGT judgement. Our execution application was heard yesterday and the order uploaded now.” The NGT order stated that there is a gap of 31.29 per cent between sewage generation and sewage collection by the BMC and 997.5 megalitres per day (MLD) of untreated sewage is discharged in creeks. The order also stated that out of total eight sewage treatment facilities in Mumbai, five of them discharge sewage through marine outfall and three of them release directly in creeks. He said the CPCB had submitted a report in January 2021, that showed operational deficiency exists in all sewage treatment plants of Mumbai even today. When asked to comment, P Velarasu, additional municipal commissioner (Projects), said on Saturday that they have appealed to the SC against the NGT order