No UGD network, yet Whitefield residents levied sewerage charges

Apartments with own STPs forced to pay the sum for years

No UGD network, yet Whitefield residents levied sewerage charges

Equipped with private sewage treatment plants (STPs), several housing complexes in Whitefield area under Mahadevapura zone of the BBMP had found ways to reuse the treated water. They had no link to an underground drainage (UGD) network. Yet, the Bengaluru Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB) levies sanitary charges on them. How fair is that?

This is the big question in everyone’s mind, a collective worry articulated by the residents in a letter to the Board in September 2016. The Board is yet to respond, but the rationale behind the cost has stumped many.

The sanitary charges, levied on all residents who use BWSSB’s Cauvery water supply, are to account for the cost incurred by the Board to collect, treat and recycle the used water. The residents contend that this should then apply only to houses and apartments that release the waste water into the BWSSB UGD lines.

The charges, which reflect on the monthly bills, are calculated at the rate of 25% of the overall water bill. A Whitefield Rising (WR) member had this to say: “In many cases, they have been collecting these charges for over five years. It is unfair that without a UGD or any other BWSSB-provided sewage facility, this service has been billed.”

Most STPs set up in the housing complexes are functional, with the treated water reused either within the complexes for gardening or flushing. The excess water is taken away by tankers for construction and farming. Karnataka State Pollution Control Board rules prohibit treated water from being released into storm water drains.

The alternative is to release the water into the UGD lines. But, as a WR representative pointed out, the UGD network has not reached several areas in the zone. “Even if it is ready, the pipes are blocked near Varthur Kodi as the BWSSB STP is not ready. That project will take another two years.”

Sanctioned three years ago, the UGD laying work in Mahadevapura zone had commenced only in mid-2014. Entire stretches of roads were dug up for the pipelines and chambers. The roads were periodically restored, but only after pressure from Whitefield Rising members and other concerned citizens.

Early this year, the government had made it mandatory for all apartments with more than 20 units to set up their own private STPs. The rule being applied retrospectively to even old apartments had triggered widespread opposition from the residents.
 

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