in a crackdown aimed at cleaning Maharashtra's two famous hill stations, Mahabaleshwar and Panchgani, the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (mpcb) has issued orders against polluting hotels and institutions of the two places. The respective municipal councils have also been hauled for setting up waste management facilities. Both the places together generate 3,960 cubic metre sewage per day.
mpcb's Pune office has issued directions against 211 hotels and educational institutions under the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974, and the Municipal Solid Waste (Management and Handling Rules), 2000. Twenty medical institutions have received notices for not disposing biomedical waste scientifically. Municipal councils have been served notices to ensure that hotels take necessary action. "Hotels have an option to either set up their own sewage treatment plants (stps) or establish a common stp by working with respective municipal councils. Municipal councils also need to set up waste management facilities as they collect taxes ,' says D T Devale, law officer (legal wing), mpcb, Mumbai. "We have given municipal councils time till June 30, 2005, to set up stps or face legal action,' says J B Sangewar, sub-regional officer, mpcb 's Satara division.
But the municipal councils are not convinced about the need of stps, though they have agreed to set them up. "Untreated sewage is neither flowing into the Venna Lake nor polluting any water body. But still, we have started laying down an underground sewerage system. Tenders have been invited for five stp s, which will be ready by the end of 2005,' says D M Bawlekar, president, Mahabaleshwar Hill Station Municipal Council. He says the council will provide most of the money for the stp s:it has a fixed deposit of Rs 4 crore and Rs 1.6 crore of pollution tax collected from vehicles entering the hill station.
Bawlekar's Panchgani counterpart Laxmi P Karhadkar says: "We have already put in Rs 20 lakh to set up a solid waste management system and will invest another Rs 20 lakh. But there is no need for an stp. The sewage is used in agriculture downstream .' Both places are likely to miss the June 30 deadline. They will have to tell this to the Bombay High Court as the matter is pending before it under a 2004 writ petition.
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