False promise to save Bellandur lake exposed

Without fixing the three malfunctioning sewage treatment plants that keep Bellandur lake polluted, BWSSB has called for tenders for a new Rs 250 crore STP for the overflow water going to Varthur lake.

BWSSB is all set for a 90 MLD (Million litres per day) Sewage Treatment Plant (STP) at Amanikane in Thubarahalli near Marathahalli. BWSSB officials claim this project is to stop channelising sewage water to Bellandur Lake and this in turn will preserve the lake.

Untreated sewage water into Bellandur Lake. Pic: Sankar C G

However, a Citizen Matters investigation has revealed that the proposed STP is not going to save Bellandur lake.

Amanikane is 10 kms away from Bellandur Lake. The sewage water coming from Bangalore has to go through Bellandur lake before it reaches the site where the Amanikane STP is to be constructed. It is the overflow from Bellandur lake that will flow into Amanikane STP.

“The best solution to save Bellandur is to maintain the existing STPs in Koramangala and Challaghatta Valley and to get excess sewage to other STPs without polluting the lake”, says Nagesh, an STP expert.

Suresh Heblikar, an environmental activist feels that, “Our administrators should be environmentally conscious otherwise they would not bother about our lakes, water or air. This is the key reason behind all environmental catastrophes in Bangalore.”

Three STPs are not working

Currently there are three STPs in the KNC Valley (Koramangala and Challaghatta) of varying capacity 165, 55 and 30 MLD respectively. The three STPs situated at KNC Valley are upstream of Bellandur Lake, so as to treat the sewage water that comes to the Bellandur Lake. These three STPs if maintained properly could stop sewage water flowing into Bellandur Lake. But BWSSB has started off the new Amanikane project without bothering about the existing three STPs.

Citizen Matters has received complaints from activists that the three STP are not functioning and are letting untreated sewage water into Bellandur Lake. Sannappa Reddy, Additional Chief Engineer, Waste Water Management, BWSSB, declined to comment on these complaints. However, M Suresh Babu, Technical Assistant, Karnataka Municipal Reforms Programme (KMRP) acknowledged that the three STPs in KNC valley are not working. Asked why the three STPs have not been repaired but a new one was being built, he said it was not a matter to be discussed. “We will repair the three STPs very shortly. Why are you unnecessarily poking your nose in these matters when a lot of other issues happening around us. (sic)”

Currently sewage water from areas like Koramangala, Shivaji Nagar, K R market, Bommanahalli, Indiranagar, Jayanagar, JP Nagar, BTM Layout, Ulsoor, Bommanahalli, Begur, Wilson Garden, Adugodi, Kalasipalya, Cantonment etc,. are reaching Agara pumping station through sewage pipes.

From the pumping station, the sewage water is being pumped to three sewage treatment plants (STP) in the KNC Valley. But due to non-working condition of the three STPs in KNC Valley, the untreated water is directly flowing to the Bellandur Lake.

But Chief Engineer Narayan, Wastewater Management department, BWSSB, is optimistic about the project. “We are doing this project with an intention to save Bellandur Lake. The Rs 250 crore project, if implemented, can solve the water shortage of industries as the treated water could be used for non-potable purposes,”he says

“The plant will also have a chemical ion extractor, which can extract phosphorus, fluoride, calcium etc from water. We have invited tender for the project,” he added.

LDA objected the project

The project faced trouble first from Lake Development Authority (LDA). They did not want to provide the  two acre land near Agara Lake for the plant. “For providing two acre land, we need to encroach lake (banks) which is not possible,” says Ravi Ralph, CEO of LDA. So BWSSB decided to shift the project to Amanikane at Thubarahalli near Marathahalli.

“Our plan was to install a two MLD plant near Agara Lake in two acres. Now wehave  56 acre land from KIADB so we have changed it to 90 MLD plant,” said Rudramurthy, Additional Chief engineer, Waste Water Management, BWSSB (now transferred). 

BWSSB invited tender without evicting the encroachers

The second hurdle was in the form of encroachment. When BWSSB survey team visited Amanikane, where the STP to be constructed, found that the land was encroached by private parties. Even before evicting the encroachers, BWSSB invited tenders for this Rs 250 crore project. However Manjunath K R, Executive Engineer, BWSSB, claimed, “we have evicted the people in July. Now there are no issues for starting the project.”

People have constructed houses by encroaching government land at Amanikane, where the STP plant is to be constructed. Pic: Sankar C G

But the land is still encroached. There are around 1000 houses constructed in the 56 acre land. Most people living there are street vendors. “We have been living here for the past four years by paying rent to Lokesh Reddy. If BWSSB evicts us, we will go to some other place,” says Krishnappa a resident.

Lokesh Reddy is said to be a businessman who has encroached the land, constructed houses and leased them, says the residents. But none of them knew more about Lokesh Reddy and his whereabouts.

BWSSB violates High Court Order

In 2000, the High Court had instructed BWSSB to not let sewage water to Bellandur Lake and monitor STPs on the basis of a PIL filed by Jagannath Reddy, former Panchayat President, Bellandur. But BWSSB continued letting  sewage water into Bellandur Lake.

“I filed a contempt petition in the year 2001 against BWSSB and the court transferred the case to Lok Adalat in 2002. Lok Adalat asked BWSSB to file a report on Bellandur Lake every month,” said Reddy.

‘They are giving the report of all pipe laying works and other BWSSB works in the name of Bellandur Lake works,” he added.

But on the other hand, V C Kumar, Executive Engineer, BWSSB, acknowledged that waste water is being dumped into Bellandur Lake. He also feels, it is BDA who is supposed to give the report on the action plan to save Bellandur Lake as they had taken up the lake for conservation in 2011.

Addendum

S Suresh Kumar, Minister for Urban Development, met  BWSSB Chairman Gaurav Gupta on 3rd September 2012 to seek clarification on inefficient STPs at Bellandur lake.  The Minister was there after reading an article on Citizen Matters published on 29th August 2012.

Speaking to Citizen Matters after the meeting, Gupta assured there will be action. “I will speak with the concerned engineers and will take necessary action shortly,” he said.

Comments:

  1. V K Raman says:

    If the 3 STPs are not functional for any reason, the sewage can be treated with
    ‘BIOMAGIC’ – a bio-powder available in Chennai, which stops bad smell instantly & turns sewage reusable for gardening or for letting into swd.,canals,rivers,lakes or sea. More info. on BIOMAGIC can be had direct from bbchem2010@gmail.com OR +91 9952988540.

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