Damanganga: Restoration of the River Choked by Toxins

DAMANGANGA RIVER OVERVIEW

River Damanganga starts from the Sahyadri hills in Maharashtra. The river passes from east and west along the tributaries, passing through hilly terrains of Maharashtra, Gujarat, Daman, and Diu along with Dadra and Nagar Haveli, with an approximate length of 131.30 km before draining in the Arabian Sea in Daman. 

The drain is named Kalkada Khadi where all the domestic wastewater from Vapi and other nearby areas falls into River Damanganga at the Gujarat border.

The river is non- perennial and the polluted area between Kachigaon to Vapi stretches up to 5.5 km. The total water consumption is approximately 25.8 MLD and the total sewage generation is 20.5 MLD. 

Currently, there are no sewage treatment plants and thus, the total gap in sewage treatment is the same as sewage generated,i.e., 20.5 MLD. The total municipal waste accumulates up to 21352.5 Tonne Per Annum (TPA) (58.5 TPD). 

The existing treatments and disposal facilities are composting method, Vermicompost, organic fertilizers, and material recovery facility.  The majority of the industries are located in Vapi, which is approximately 11 km away from Daman.

THE PROBLEM

The Common Effluent Treatment Plant (CETP) was set up by Vapi Industrial Association as it was the only viable option to manage pollution and waste and safeguarding small and large scale industries.

The CETP in Vapi has a treatment capacity of 55 MLD and the COD (Chemical Oxygen Demand) discharged of CETP is slightly higher than their norms. The water quality of the river Daman Ganga is deteriorating because the treated effluent is discharged and untreated sewage waste is disposed of in the river.

Domestic waste is discharged without any treatment directly or indirectly. Vapi estate located near banks of Daman Ganga has over 735 numbers of small, medium, and large manufacturing units. 

519 industrial units are discharging treated effluents into CETP through Gujarat Industrial Development Corporation (GIDC) underground pipeline. The drain outfall is generally from Kalkada khadi, which carries the domestic wastewater. 

The level of pollution is a major concern as the water supports life near the river banks. The CETP discharge location is highly pigmented which shows that the pollution in that specific area is very high and a major contributor to the water pollution of river Daman Ganga.

Also, Gujarat Heavy Chemical Limited has contributed to the pollution of the river. The major contributors to river pollution are Industrial clusters formed at Vapi estate around the banks of Daman Ganga, Solid domestic waste, Open natural drains, and sewage.

Khemani Distilleries Private limited has upgraded and installed a Zero Liquid Discharge system to stop the discharge from their unit.

THE IMPACT OF WATER POLLUTION FROM INDUSTRIAL EFFLUENTS OVER LIVELIHOOD

Vapi is a little town and home to fisherfolk, river, and many industries. The pollution level on the Daman Ganga at Vapi is very high due to the Staggering rate of industries discharging the effluents in the river. The Vapi Industrial Estate was set up in 1967 by Gujarat Industrial Development Corporation which supports almost 1800 industries.

CPCB (Gujarat Pollution Control Board) has categorized Damanganga as ‘river unfit to support life’. About 5000 people are dependent over these rivers and their livelihood is affected directly by non-compliance of environmental laws by the industries set up nearby because these effluents are affecting marine life, over which many fisherfolks depend.  

The impact of pollution on Vapi has been a public issue since the beginning. It was since 2013, that there was clear legal evidence of violations and non-compliance available with citizens of Vapi. 

THE COMPLAINT AND ITS IMPACT

It took eight RTIs to gather evidence and information. Two detailed letters were written by the fishermen community to GPCB as of 20/03/2014. 

However, the responsible authority did not take up any action for five months, after which the fishermen community sent another complaint to GPCB, following which GPCB brought 53 red category industries based on the online monitoring system.

STATUS OF SEWAGE TREATMENT PLANTS NEAR RIVER DAMAN GANGA

  • In Dadra Nagar Haveli, a sewage treatment plant is under construction with a projected capacity of 13 MLD
  • In Vapi Gujrat, two STPs are under construction at Namdha with the capacity of 14 MLD and 29 MLD respectively
  • In GIDC notified zone, two STPs with the capacity of each 10 MLD and 5 MLD are under planning stage 
  • In Daman, Daman municipal council, an STP with a capacity of 4.2 MLD had been installed at Moti Daman and another STP with the capacity of 16 MLD is at the planning stage

The proposed action plans include the utilization of sewage, rainwater harvesting, regulating groundwater use, watershed management and setting up of biodiversity parks, etc.

CURRENT PROJECTS ON THE LINE

Gujarat state is taking up measures to create drainage from various industrial estates and villages around river Daman Ganga. The drainage is linked with Sewage Treatment Plants that would clean up the effluents before being discharged into the river. 

To cover the gap in sewage treatment, another sewage plant is proposed to be installed, covering up the entire Nani Daman area and nearby rural areas. Plans are also laid to create drainage systems for remote rural areas.

The industries will not be allowed to discharge untreated or treated effluents outside the industrial premises and utilize wastewater within the premises. 

THE SOLUTION

The main aim is to restore and rejuvenate the water flow through various action plans. 

  • The ecological river restoration is the foremost aspect of Daman Ganga pollution management. 
  • The pattern of human intervention should also be taken into account. The ecological condition of the river should be measurably improved. Implementing measures that reduce the discharge and solid waste disposal into the river. 
  • Creating a circular economy by upcycling and recycling waste. Measures can be taken to create awareness on long term protection of available water resources and utilizing the water sustainably. Creating sustainable channels linking urban growth and maintaining natural systems.

THE EARTH5R RIVER RESTORATION APPROACH: CIRCULAR ECONOMY BASED SOLUTIONS

  • It is important to utilise scientific approach to train the locals in waste management.
  • Since a lot of untreated sewage is from domestic sources, it is important to train and educate people about ensuring proper maintenance of the sewage system and waste disposal methods. 
  • The locals can report ground results and activities on a regular basis to help authorities keep check on the effluent disposal by the industries. The waste accumulated can be treated and utilized by the industries over again. This creates sustainable usage of water.
  • As the fisherfolks and communities residing nearby are the most affected, they should be educated and trained to monitor the effluents treatment and disposal system, ensuring that the industries are operating as per norms laid down for environmental protection of river Damanganga

A NEW APPROACH TO RIVER RESTORATION (EARTH5R MITHI RIVER CLEAN UP PROJECT AT MUMBAI)

Earth5R is a part of Mithi river clean up project in partnership with United Nations Technology Innovation Labs (UNTIL), Huhtamäki Oyj, VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, and RiverRecycle.

The goal is to clean the Mithi with innovative tools while raising awareness on waste management and building a circular economy and livelihood based model to restore the Mithi River. 

  • Under this project, Earth5R team will conduct various waste management training for the residential buildings, slums, and industries along the catchment of Mithi River. 
  • Earth5R team will also conduct a large-scale cleanup, waste segregation, and recycling program in the Mithi River area. 
  • The River will be mapped with the help of drones pre and post-project and the data will be analyzed to develop further solutions. 
  • Various research on plastic waste will be conducted to develop innovative solutions that support circular economies. 
  • Children and citizens in various Colleges, Schools, Offices of Mumbai will be mobilized for a solution-based approach to solve the Mithi River plastic pollution problem.

This partnership is one step forward towards sustainable restoration of the Mithi river.

ABOUT EARTH5R

Earth5R is an environmental organization from India with its head office at Mumbai. It works with the NGO sector, Companies and helps them conduct environmental corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs across India. Earth5R specializes in circular economy based projects. Earth5R also offers short term and long term environmental courses.

Earth5R is conducting large-scale online training on COVID 19 Coronavirus prevention, response, management, and self-sustainability. These trainings are conducted on digital platforms in regional languages across India and other countries.

Earth5R’s Global Sustainability Hub is a cross-sector and cross-country collaboration in pursuit of UN Sustainable Development Goals. It is an excellent opportunity for governments and the private sector to engage with communities, use Sustainability-based models to drive economic changes and create social and environmental impact.

-Reported by Anu Chaudhari

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