Ashadhi Wari: Indrayani river pollution sparks health concerns ahead of Palkhi

Industrial and residential waste is discharged directly into river without treatment, polluting the water that devotees use during pilgrimage.
Representative Image
Representative Image

Pune: With the Ashadhi Wari Palkhi procession of Saint Dnyaneshwar Maharaj just days away, the Indrayani River in Alandi has been hit by severe water pollution, causing significant foam formation on its surface.

The pollution, attributed to chemical-laden industrial discharge and untreated sewage, has been visible for the past five days, raising health concerns among devotees and residents.

Originating from Lonavala, the Indrayani River flows through numerous towns before reaching Alandi, including a 19-kilometer stretch through Pimpri-Chinchwad.

Industrial and residential waste is being discharged directly into the river without treatment, polluting the water that millions of devotees use for holy baths during the pilgrimage.

The presence of water hyacinth and now foam has severely compromised the river’s sanctity and safety, prompting complaints from devotees.

The Warkari community has criticized the administration for its lack of action regarding the river's pollution. During the Kartiki Yatra festival, similar pollution was reported, but no corrective measures were taken despite warnings, lamented Niranjannath Maharaj, head of the Saint Dnyaneshwar Maharaj Palkhi procession.

The Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) has issued notices to municipal and village councils between Pimpri and Lonavala, identifying them as sources of the pollution due to their untreated sewage discharge. Surveys indicated that outdated sewage treatment facilities and direct discharge of contaminated water are responsible for the river's current hazardous state.

With the pilgrimage imminent, the appearance of foam on the river has intensified concerns. The confluence of the Indrayani with the Bhima and Chandrabhaga rivers means that pollution affects a broader water system.

Niranjannath Maharaj has called for the formation of a committee comprising Alandi residents, temple trust members, and environmental organizations to tackle the issue. Regular reviews every three months are proposed to ensure effective pollution control.

Unauthorized businesses near Chakan contribute to the pollution, with eleven streams from the area emptying into the Indrayani. The Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation has set up a sewage treatment plant in Kudalwadi and is finalizing another in Chikhali to prevent further contamination. Additional monitoring by the Pollution Control Board is needed, said Sanjay Kulkarni, Assistant City Engineer.

The MPCB has instructed municipal and village councils to prevent sewage from entering the river and to remove water hyacinth. Monitoring teams have been deployed to ensure compliance and control the pollution, stated Ravindra Aandhale, Regional Officer, MPCB.

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