PMC and the real estate industry have been accused of polluting the river’s water.
A joint committee of the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) and the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) is yet to issue a notice on an environmental compensation to be levied on Gokhale Landmark and the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC).
The National Green Tribunal convened the committee (NGT). The decision was made on October 8. “The meet has been convened, and they are in the process of analyzing it,” said MPCB lawyer Manasi Joshi.
Untreated water was blown into the Mula river owing to a damaged sewage pipe, and the realty business and PMC are accused of causing harm to the river’s water. Despite local citizens bringing it to their attention, the PMC was accused of inactivity.
“NGT has not declared that either 100% Gokhale Construction or 100% Pune Municipal Corporation is guilty,” said advocate Pralhad Paranjape, who represents Gokhale Landmarks. According to the NGT, a committee comprised of CPCB (Central Pollution Control Board) and MPCB (Maharashtra Pollution Control Board) members would convene to determine what must be done.
In that sense, the committee will examine the damage that has been done and assess and determine the extent to which we are culpable. “The committee has yet to take any further action.”
According to architect Sarang Yadvadkar, who brought the matter before the NGT with four other petitioners, over 20.24 million litres per day (MLD), or 2,024 tankers of untreated raw sewage, were dumped into the water body.
Even though the names of the two rivers, Mula and Mutha, are linked with Pune’s identity, they can no longer be called “rivers” due to the irresponsible damage over the previous few decades.
The Mutha River traverses around 1,100 to 1,200 kilometres from its source in Verge village to the Bay of Bengal. Mutha is a 45-kilometre strip of land that runs through and surrounding the city, stretching from Verge to Khadakwasla. It spans around 15 kilometres from Khadakwasla to Sangam Bridge.
The river changes its name to Mula-Mutha at Sangam Bridge and runs for about 15 kilometres up to Hadapsar. It runs over 60 kilometres from Hadapsar to the confluence of the Bhima at Ranjangaon Sandals in the Ahmednagar district.
“It’s not a river, it’s a sewer,” Shailaja Deshpande, director of Jeevitnadi-Living River Foundation, said of Mutha’s current situation. Mutha is no longer alive. The PMC can say anything they want, but the volume of untreated sewage entering the river directly is too much for Mutha to handle.
Toxins that enter the river untreated, such as household detergents and other cleaning chemicals, make the water more hazardous, harming the river’s fauna and vegetation.”
According to her, builders and local people have not only turned the river into a dumping ground for building materials, but they have also encroached on the riverbanks. The river’s channelization has clogged Mutha’s springs and streams.
“The complete disconnect between Pune people and their unwillingness to assume responsibility has exacerbated the situation,” she added. Deshpande warned that Mutha is a dangerous river, noting that Khadakwasla, the largest of the four dams’ reservoirs, is only a few kilometres away.
She warned that a cloudburst or severe rainfall in any of the dams’ catchment areas is likely to cause a water release. “The PMC has not drawn flood lines – blue and red – to demarcate flood zones. “Most of the low-lying districts of Pune city, on the banks of the Mutha, are either on the blue line or the red line, making them more dangerous,” she noted.
The Mula River begins at Mula-Devghar, about 65 kilometres west of Pune. It was dammed at Mulshi in the early 1920s and ran downstream to Balewadi, joining the Pune urban area.
It runs from Wakad’s edge to Aundh, Bopodi (where the Pawana river joins her), Khadki, Vishrantwadi, Wakdewadi, and Sangam, where it merges with Mutha to create the Mula-Mutha river. It flows downstream from Sangam to Bund Garden, Yerawada, Koregaon Park, Kalyani Nagar, and Mundhwa. It leaves the Pune city limits at the Kharadi IT Park.
According to Mukul, many experts have undertaken research to evaluate the pollution levels of the Mula, Mutha, and Mula-Mutha rivers, as well as their influence on biological variety, agriculture, and human health Mahabaleshwarkar, an environmental scientist from INTACH’s Pune Chapter.
The Mula river has been contaminated largely by residential waste, i.e. sewage, as evidenced by algae blooms and excessive development of water hyacinth, rubbish dumped in the river and construction debris in some areas until it joins the Pavana river.
In upstream places, agricultural runoff is also mixed with Mula river water. Some industrial effluents are also introduced to this river once it meets the Pawana river. The Mula-Mutha river system receives a mix of home and industrial sewage from the Mutha river.
According to him, lower dissolved oxygen levels, as low as 0.4 mg/l, the presence of heavy metals, BOD and COD levels, and other signs indicate that the Mula-Mutha rivers are drying up.
“In this scenario, the pollution delivered into the water body is raw sewage.” So, the formula is the daily quantity released and the number of days it was issued for. Compensation will fall under the financial heading.
“They have to compensate the ecosystem for the damages,” Yadvadkar added. The company is constructing a business complex near Kothrud’s City Pride.The NGT special bench, chaired by chairperson Justice AK Goel, handed down the decision on October 8.