Given the myriad concerns the city is facing, river pollution is one of the priorities that need to be addressed at the earliest. With the blazing summer, and the imminent water crisis, conservation and rejuvenation of the rivers and water bodies, is of paramount importance.
The total cost would come upto Rs. 990.26 Crore out of which Rs 841.72 Crore will come as grant from the Centre through JICA while the Pune Municipal Corporation will bear the additional Rs. 148.54 Crore.
The Mula-Mutha river is one of the 302 polluted river of the country identified by Central Pollution Control Board.
Keeping this in mind, the PMC last year signed a loan agreement with Japan International Cooperation Agency under the Mula-Mutha River Development Project to revive the rivers of Pune by 2022.
“Although the authorities have signed a treaty to protect our water bodies after so long, but are we as individuals doing enough to revive it?,” says Mahesh Raskar, a city based automobile dealer, raising a logical concern.
“There are larger number of people polluting the river bodies over the hands to clean it! This initiative must be inclusive and not restricted to just the authorities. Finally, after repeated pleas and suggestions, the government have come to terms with the fact that they need to be protected. This doesn’t mean that we should get away with our responsibilities as an individual. The first step should be to avoid increasing the pollution which in turn will make the rejuvenation less difficult,” he adds.
The project aims to treat the city’s sewage and restrict its direct release into the rivers. Works under the project include 100% treatment of sewage, installation of sewage treatment plants, construction of toilets to stop open defecation, setting up a botanical garden and creating awareness among citizens to keep rivers pollution free, reports suggested.
Mula and Mutha rivers originate in the Sahyadri ranges and flow across the city and districts and drains into the Bhima river. Mutha river has three dams- Khadakwasla, Varasgaon and Temghar while Mula river has Mulshi dam.
Mentioning the three basic components that are contaminating the rivers, a city-based environmentalist quotes, “In Pune, only 55% of water is treated and the rest untreated sewage water goes directly into the water bodies. Secondly, the industries along the river side in Pune district are not doing their job of treating the affluent released by them. These affluent are left untreated into the water bodies. Agricultural wastes, pesticides, fertilisers etc are also washed into the rivers, further contaminating it.
The civic bodies should make it a point to treat all the sewage at the sewage treatment plants. Only treated domestic waste should be allowed to enter into the water. They should start river cleaning by restricting the pollutants from entering first.
“The industries should ensure that the affluent treatment plants should be functional and the wastes should be treated or else levy heavy fines on them.
“The government should also promote organic composts for farmers to restrict the runoff of chemicals. The idea should be to restrict the pollutants and then clean the existing contaminated water. Illegal dumping, soil extraction are other issues that lead to river pollution,” he adds.
Critical Steps To Protect Our River Bodies
Compost the ‘puja’ waste rather than dumping it in the water.
The idol immersion process causes a lot of pollution. Water soluble products can be used to make such idols.
Avoid using pesticides and shit to organic compost and fertilisers for plants, decreasing the chemicals that can be washed into the nearby water body.
Reduce the use of plastics, dispose off responsibly.
Planting of trees to hold the soil in place.
Heavy fines for defaulters- both Individuals and Industries.
Pune district has five rivers, namely, Mula , Mutha, Ram Nadi, Dev Nadi and Ambil nullah.
The Mula river runs for 22.2 km, the Mutha for 10.4 km and after confluence at the Mula-Mutha, it runs for another 11.8 km.
“I had raised this issue with the then Municipal commissioner and pointed him to the fact that the most important thing for the city, was not building flyovers but that of building of sewage treatment plants,” says Satish Khot, former president of the National Society for Clean Cities, Pune chapter.
Couple of years later, Mr V J Kulkarni, head of PMC’s water department, came out with the plan of setting up of the Sewage Treatment Plants in the city, however no one in the PMC was interested then.
“But finally, they have received grants. If it is indeed, the earlier plan, it will certainly remedy the water sewage concerns.
“I am glad that something is been done finally. Having 100% of the water treated that too in the next two and a half year or so, is the need of the hour. This is critical and cannot be achieved by planting trees or creating a canal,” he adds.
#All views expressed in this article are those of the individual respondents and Pune365 does not necessarily subscribe to them.
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