New Delhi: One of India’s most industrialised states, Maharashtra, was the worst at keeping its rivers clean, accounting for 16% of the country’s polluted river stretches in five years to 2012, show government data.

With 49 of India’s 302 polluted sites, the state recorded the highest number of river stretches where industrial effluents were dumped between 2008 and 2012, according to the country’s Central Pollution Control Board, minister of state for environment Mahesh Sharma told the Lok Sabha (lower house of Parliament) on April 6, 2018.

Effluents reduce the oxygen content of water bodies because it is used up by chemicals in the decomposition process. This fall in oxygen levels kills fish and other creatures.

Maharashtra had two to three times the number of polluted stretches than the next four worst states: Assam (28), Madhya Pradesh (21), Gujarat (20) and West Bengal (17). Together, the top five polluting states accounted for 45% of India’s polluted river stretches between 2008 and 2012.

Toxic waste has been choking Maharashtra’s rivers, and fishing communities complain that their daily catch is only 10% of what it used to be, the Hindustan Times reported on August 13, 2016.

Lax monitoring of and prosecution for water pollution in the state means that common effluent treatment plants routinely flout environmental guidelines on discharging untreated effluents into rivers, IndiaSpend reported on May 10, 2017.

Source: Lok Sabha

(Vivek is an analyst with IndiaSpend.)

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