184 civic bodies lack sewage treatment plants

People forced to drink water contaminated with faecal material

184 civic bodies lack sewage treatment plants

Strange are the priorities of the State government. While spending crores of rupees to improve health conditions of its citizens, the government is allowing surface water to get contaminated by letting out untreated sewage across the State.

In other words, urban populace in the State is consuming, directly and indirectly water containing faecal material. Of the 219 urban local bodies (ULBs) in the State, excluding Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP), 184 ULBs do not have sewage treatment plant (STP) which should be a mandatory part of the underground drainage (UGD).

Not just smaller towns, even district headquarters such as Dharwad, Belgaum, Chitradurga, Shimoga, Haveri, Bidar and Gulbarga among others do not have STP. There is not a single district where all its taluks have  STP facility.

Bangalore, which generates the highest revenue in the form of tax to the government, is no exception. When Bangalore became ‘Bruhat,’ 101 villages were brought under the BBMP limits.

But unlike old Bangalore city areas, these erstwhile villages do not have STP facility.  Anekal which comes under the City limits, lacks STP facility. Devanahalli may boast of having the Bengaluru International Airport, but the Devanahalli Town Municipal Council (TMC) lacks an STP.

According to a document of the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB), which is vested with the responsibility of ensuring ULBs follow the statutory requirements like providing UGD. Of the 219 ULBs, just 35 have provided STP, while the Board has given consent for 30 ULBs to instal treatment plants. As many as 154 do not have the plants.

In all, 184 ULBs have failed to have the plants for treating sewage generated from houses, hotels and commercial establishments. It is mandatory for any local body to treat the sewage generated in its jurisdiction before letting it out into the water bodies, river, sea, natural canals, valleys, septic tanks/soak pits or using it for irrigation. Every local body has to provide UGD, inclusive of STP. But, it has become an order rather than rarity to see untreated sewage being let out into water bodies (see the chart).

Bad UGD system

Karnataka Urban Infrastructure Development Corporation (KUIDFC) and Karnataka Urban Water Supply and Drainage Board are the agencies to provide a comprehensive UGD to all cities and towns. But funding has to come from local bodies. In addition, there should be sufficient water supply to make a UGD system work.

Sources in the KUIDFC said that local bodies are yet to realise the importance of keeping the environment clean. There is also lack of political will to provide the basic facility. Both, sewage as well as grey water (waste water from bathing and washing clothes/vessels) could be harvested for reuse. In Singapore, sewage is converted into potable water.

KSPCB chairperson Dr Vaman Acharya said that since 2006, the Board has booked 40 criminal cases against those officials who have failed to comply with the norms. In four cases, the guilty have been convicted and also fined. “But punishment is not the solution. The government must provide sufficient funds and make water available to ensure UGD serves its purpose,” he said.

Dr Acharya said that the government must realise that it can’t provide healthcare to people, unless it provides clean drinking water.

“The entire State, except Bangalore City, is confronted with untreated sewage problem. Water bodies and rivers are getting highly polluted. Even for installing a small STP unit, not less than Rs one crore is required besides flowing water. Both are not available. When there is shortage of drinking water, it is difficult to get water for sanitation,” he said.

Sewage treatment scenario in Karnataka

Local Bodies                STP Status    Discharge Point
Mudhol TMC    No    Ghataprabha river and for agriculture
Kanakapura TMC    No    Open drain, reaches Arkavathi river
Ullal TMC    UC    Arabian Sea
Belgaum CC    No    Bellary nala (canal)
Bidar CMC    No    Open canal close to city limits
Harihar CMC    No    Tungabhadra river
Channapattana CMC    UC    Open drain
Bellary CC    Available    Used for irrigation / gardening
Jewargi TP    No    Irrigation, reaches Bhima river
Chamarajnagar CMC    No    Land for irrigation
Hubli-Dharwad CC    No    From Hubli to Kakihalla, from Dharwad to Madihalla canal
Hassan CMC    Available    Makanakere  
Mangalore CC    UC    Gurupur river
(TMC - Town Municipal Council; CC - City Corporation; CMC - City Municipal Council); UC - Under construction

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