Palkhis ahead, high pollution levels in Indrayani river raise fears

Indrayani riverWorkers fish out plastic and other waste from Indrayani river near the weir bridge at Alandi on Wednesday.

High pollution levels in the Indrayani has set alarm bells ringing with the annual palkhi processions starting in a few days. Lakhs of devotees take a dip in the river during the processions and also drink its water as it is considered holy.

However, there is a high level of faecal coliform contamination in the river indicating introduction of untreated sewage into the river.

The Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB), which keeps a tab on pollution in rivers across the state, has been consistently recording high faecal coliform in the river.

For January, February and March this year, the readings were 130, 250 and 275 MPN/100 ml, respectively, indicating contamination had been on the rise in these three months.

Starting from the tourist destination of Lonavala, the Indrayani passes through many villages and municipal towns in the district before meeting the Bhima off Tulapur. The river holds a special significance for the warkari community as various myths are associated with it. Drinking its water and bathing in it is considered an act of piety.

However, as readings indicate, the river is polluted and drinking its water could lead to health hazards. Senior MPCB officers stated that discharge of untreated sewage from various small villages and municipal towns is the main cause of the pollution. In fact, MPCB had repeatedly sent notices to the Alandi Municipal Council for discharging untreated sewage into the river.

Alandi MC president Vinayak Aundhkar said the council, along with the state government, has set long- and short-term goals to control the pollution.

"Under the pilgrim centre development plan, we got Rs 18 crore to build sewage treatment plants in the town. The tendering of the same would start within two months and hopefully, help us control pollution in the river," he said. Aundhkar also stated that sewage treatment plant of Pimpri Chinchwad Municipal Corporation (PCMC) was ready at Charoli and it would help control pollution.

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