Of eleven samples of treated water that were tested by non-governmental organisations in Ambernath earlier this month, four were found to be non-potable. All 14 samples of untreated water taken directly from dams or other sources were also found to be non-potable, according to reports released by two NGOs.
Activists said water supply in Ambernath and Ulhasnagar has been polluted by industrial effluents dumped directly into the Ulhas river and its tributaries.
The tests were conducted on July 6 by the Ambernath Citizens’ Forum and Nagrik Seva Mandal. “The results painted a grim picture. Four out of the 11 water samples from households were deemed to be non-potable, including water supplied to the Ulhasnagar Municipal Corporation,” said Satyajit Burman, an activist working towards access to potable water.
The report showed presence of coliforms and thermotolerant coliform bacteria in water being supplied to the offices of the municipality and senior police officers in Ulhasnagar and Ambernath, along with some other private establishments. “According to the report, the water can’t be made potable just by boiling it. The water is severely contaminated,” said Burman.
The Ulhasnagar Municipal Corporation, which supplies water to Ulhasnagar, and the Maharashtra Jeevan Pradikharan, which supplies water to Ambernath, said they would have to peruse the reports before commenting. Ulhasnagar Municipal Commissioner Ganesh Patil said: “We are just a supplier agency. We get the water from MIDC. Their plants purify the water.”
Member Secretary of the Maharashtra Jeevan Pradhikaran, P Velarasu said: “There are multiple reasons why the water could have been contaminated. Several water lines are illegal and thus we have no control on the final result. We are trying to fix those.” However, Velarasu also accepted that there may be contamination at the source. “We have already asked the irrigation department, almost a month ago, to take action against polluting industries around the water bodies,” he said.
The Maharashtra Pollution Control Board’s regional officer, D B Patil, however, denied there were any industries
discharging waste into the water supply bodies.
“It is MPCB’s job to check industrial pollution in water. I can assure you that there are no industries discharging waste into water bodies in my region,” said Patil.
Residents of Ambernath and Ulhasnagar had complained earlier about contaminated water in their areas.
“The problem generally escalates during the monsoon. Once, the tap-water was mud-coloured and had a terrible smell,” said Reena Kalra, a resident of Ulhasnagar, who says she uses UV-filtered and boiled water. Manas Patil, a resident of Ambernath, said there’s a metallic after-taste to the water even after boiling.
“The Ulhas river has changed colour and has become a frothy nullah full of waste. How can anyone drink water from there? The industries need to stop dumping untreated waste, and only the agencies can stop it,” said activist Burman.
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