‘MIDC pipeline discharging effluents into Thane Creek Flamingo Sanctuary’ | Mumbai news

Mumbai: An offshore pipeline from the Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation’s (MIDC) Trans-Thane Creek (TTC) establishment at Pawne, Navi Mumbai, carrying industrial effluents into the deep sea has allegedly ruptured and is discharging its contents into the Thane Creek Flamingo Sanctuary, a protected area under the Wildlife Protection Act (1972). The alleged leak was first flagged by environmentalist Stalin D and Harish Sutar, a local fisherman, on Saturday.

A deputy engineer working at MIDC-TTC, however, refuted their claims that effluents are polluting the sanctuary. “There is no leak from the pipeline. It is a high-density polyethylene vessel which requires concrete blocks to be held down. Some blocks have broken, and the alignment of the pipeline has shifted. A portion of it is visible above the surface of the water at high tide, but there is no leak. We have surveyed the site one month ago. If the pipeline has ruptured recently but the effluent is treated as per discharge norms to not pollute the environment. We are planning to fix the pipeline in one month,” the deputy engineer said requesting anonymity.

Officials in the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB), including joint director Yashwant Sontakke and regional officer (Navi Mumbai) DB Patil, directed inquiries to the MIDC, which is the only party currently operating underwater pipelines through Thane Creek.

Despite multiple attempts, MIDC CEO P Anbalagan could not be reached for comment.

Notably, the pipeline in question has been operational since 2021 and was built to replace a 25-year-old channel to carry effluents from a treatment plant in Mahape into the deep sea, beyond the limit of Thane Creek, where it is discharged at an appropriate location depending on the capacity of the area to dilute the effluents.

Eyewitnesses who visited the site early Saturday, however, maintained that there is indeed a leak in the channel. “The effluent is visible to the naked eyes. And even if it is treated as per discharge standards, one cannot simply release them within the boundary of a protected area. The Wildlife Act clearly states that no party can destroy the habitat of any wild animal, in this case, flamingoes and other migratory birds, through any act whatsoever except with the written sanction of the wildlife department,” said Stalin.

Officials in the state forest department’s mangrove cell, responsible for implementing the provisions of the Wildlife Act in Thane Creek Flamingo Sanctuary, said they will investigate the matter. “We have not provided any written permission allowing the discharge of effluents, treated or untreated, in the creek. If there is indeed a leak, we will take action against the erring authority. I have asked our officers to check it out,” said Adarsh Reddy, district forest officer, Thane.

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