Govt still undecided on exempting smaller apartments from STP rule

The state government is yet to decide on exempting small apartment complexes from installing sewage treatment plants (STP) with dual pipelines.

In a notification on January 19, 2016, the Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB) had asked residential apartment complexes with a built-up area of 2,000 square metres and having more than 20 flats, commercial buildings with 2,000 square metres and educational institutions with 5,000 square metres and above to instal STPs and use the treated water for flush and other purposes. October 31, 2016, was the deadline for installation.

Violators had to pay an additional 25% of the water and sanitary charges in the first three months and 50% subsequently. Once the deadline passed, the BWSSB served notices and imposed penalty on thousands of apartments.

On January 21, 2017, residents of some small-sized apartments met Additional Chief Secretary (Urban Development Department) Mahendra Jain, seeking exemption for residential complexes with up to 50 flats from the rule and prospective enforcement.

They also pointed out that the BWSSB was “arbitrarily” fixing penalty for violating the STP rule. This month, most apartments were fined 50% while some others just 25%.

Among those who made the representation were residents of RR Nagar Association Federation, Sanskruthi Residency, Kengeri Satellite Township, Nakshatra Lake View, Kengeri, and Elegance Lalbagh View Apartments.

Speaking to DH, Jain said the government was sympathetic to smaller apartments and was considering a proposal to exempt apartments with up to 50 flats. The proposal is being discussed with all stakeholders, including the BWSSB, the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board and the Department of Ecology and Environment. But he made it clear that all new and upcoming apartments must have STPs with the dual piping system. Until the government takes a decision, the penalty and water charges levied by the BWSSB will continue, he added.

Jain reiterated that large-sized apartments must have their own STPs as they are letting sewage into lakes and polluting them. The city generates a staggering 1,40,000 trillion litres per day of sewage water and the BWSSB’s plants simply do not have the capacity to treat it. The only concession for large apartments would be on the dual pipeline system. If they can’t instal dual pipelines, they should set up STPs, treat the sewage water and let it into the BWSSB drains, he added.

The BWSSB, however, has refused to relax the rules. In a press release on Monday, it said apartment complexes and commercial spaces with 20 homes and above and having built-up area of 2,000 square metres and above must instal STPs and submit a reuse plan while obtaining permission.

It, however, has set December 31, 2017, deadline for existing residential buildings with 50 and above houses and measuring 5,000 square metres and above, educational institutions measuring 10,000 square metres and above and commercial buildings measuring 2,000 square metres and above to instal STPs or else face penalty as per 4A of the Bangalore Sewerage Regulation.­

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