Maharashtra’s Rivers in Peril: 38 Percent of Sewage Untreated, Reveals MPCB and CBCB

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Pune, 22nd January 2024: Cities lining the banks of rivers in Maharashtra are turning these once vibrant water bodies into drains, as 38 per cent of sewage (2 thousand 497 million litres per day) from 27 Municipal Corporations is discharged untreated into the rivers daily. This alarming situation has been revealed by studies conducted by the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) and the Central Pollution Control Board (CBCB).

The consequences of rapid urbanization in the state have been severe, with the proportion of urban dwellers rising from 28 per cent in 1961 to 45 per cent in 2011. The subsequent 12 years have seen a further increase in urbanization, making Maharashtra the fastest-urbanizing state in the country. Unfortunately, the health of rivers has suffered the most, turning them into de facto drains for untreated sewage.

The MPCB and CBCB have periodically monitored and recorded river pollution observations, highlighting the critical situation in 27 municipalities. The untreated sewage discharge is not only a threat to aquatic ecosystems but also poses a serious risk to the availability of clean water for the residents.

With half of Maharashtra’s Population residing in different cities for work, Maharashtra’s rapid urbanization is taking a toll on the rivers. The findings underscore the urgent need for comprehensive wastewater management strategies to safeguard the ecological balance of these water bodies.

An analysis of the water distribution on Earth reveals a stark reality: 97 per cent is salt water in seas and oceans, leaving only 3 per cent of catchwater. Of this, a mere 1 per cent is available for consumption. The need for judicious use and responsible disposal of freshwater becomes more critical in the face of the current sewage crisis.

In the 27 Municipal Corporations, a staggering 38 per cent of sewage remains untreated, exacerbating the pollution of rivers. Shockingly, only 19 per cent of the 238 municipalities in A, B, and C categories are equipped for sewage treatment, despite generating 874 million litres of wastewater. This means that only 4 per cent of municipalities in these categories treat their wastewater, compounding the environmental challenges.