Mumbai: The Bombay High Court said on Thursday it was the duty of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to ensure all the sewage generated in the city is treated before being discharged into the Arabian Sea. Accordingly, it ordered the civic body to connect all the existing sewer lines of the city to the proposed eight main sewage treatment plants (STPs), in order to ascertain how much non-treated sewage is dumped in the sea. A bench of Chief Justice Pradeep Nandrajog and Justice Nitin Jamdar has ordered the BMC to submit quarterly reports on the issue to the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB). The report, the bench said, must spell out the status of the proposed new sewer lines, which would ensure the generated waste is treated before being discharged into the sea.
The bench was seized with a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by an NGO highlighting an incident almost a year ago, when the sea spat out around 9,000kg of garbage near Marine Drive. The plea claimed, the BMC had miserably failed to prevent the discharge of untreated waste into the Mithi river, which flows into the Arabian Sea. During the course of the hearing, the MPCB counsel, Sharmila Deshmukh, argued that the civic body’s present sewage network was not up to the mark, as it did not connect the entire city. She further told the judges that because of the poor network of sewer lines, the existing STPs were compelled to work below their standards. Deshmukh further claimed that the existing STPs could treat at least 2,595 million litres per day (mld) of waste generated in the city. “But due to the bad network connectivity (of sewer lines), these plants are only treating 2,016 mld waste. Thus, a chunk of the total waste generated in the city goes into the sea untreated,” the counsel argued.
At this, the BMC counsel Anil Sakhare told the judges that in order to resolve this issue, the civic body has planned to lay down more sewer lines across the city. “Around 2,012km of new sewer lines would be be laid down across the city. We have also sanctioned eight new STPs,” Sakhre informed the judges. Having heard the submissions, CJ Nandrajog said, “We are of the view that you (BMC) are dutybound to ensure that all the sewage generated in the city is treated at the STPs, you manage. Ensure all your sewer lines (both existing and proposed ones) are connected to the STPs (existing and new ones).” “We think the MPCB can oversee this issue and must seek a quarterly report from the BMC. The MPCB will have to ensure that the BMC connects the STPs in the city to the new or extended sewer lines within a reasonable period of time,” he added.