About 340 million gallons of drinking water a day is pumped into the city’s distribution system. Hundreds of crores of rupees is being spent for Krishna water phase three by the Hyderabad Metropolitan Water Supply & Sewerage Board (HMWSSB).

Although drinking water supply needs to get the highest priority, building a modern sewerage network is lagging far behind, so are the treatment plants and even the prospects of recycling water. The board admits to 70 per cent sewage network only in the core city (erstwhile MCH) and about 40 per cent in the suburbs. It currently has the capacity to treat just about 50 per cent of the sewage outflow with the help of three Sewerage Treatment Plants (STPs). Recycling of sewage is at the proposal stage even if policy-makers know a major part of people’s needs can be met through it.

Sewage network was first developed in 1931 by M. Visvesvaraya for a population of 54 sq.km and a population of five lakh and major remodelling was done in the early 90s in the core city. The core city sewerage network totalling to 3,500 km needs a major overhaul while the suburbs either have zero or an incomplete network.

Most household sewers are either linked to storm water drains or let out into the existing water bodies nearby. “Storm water drains are supposed to be dry except during the rains but the flow is perennial, indicating the illegal link of sewers because of which excess rainwater does not drain away easily,” points out a senior municipal official.

“Poor sewerage has led to groundwater contamination, stagnant water, mosquito-breeding and pollution of Musi river with drains (sewer & storm) disgorging their contents,” avers another official.

The continuing see-saw battle with GHMC in taking over sewer and water connections handled by erstwhile municipalities is another reason for lack of urgency in taking up any works. About 100 colonies did manage to take up pipelines where the municipal corporation offered to fund 70 per cent.

But the execution of the master plan for suburbs or for the core is painfully slow due to funds crunch with precedence given to sudden exigencies or water supply works. Now, there is a growing feeling among senior officials that the government should help HMWSSB to build a proper underground sewerage system for better hygiene and sanitation.

GHMC and HMDA should also share part of their revenue as mandated, they maintain. “Every year the GHMC can easily allocate Rs.100 crore – Rs.200 crore to help take up or improve the sewer system in phases. It can change the civic scene for the better instead of taking up community halls’ construction or cement roads spending crores of rupees, which public representatives clamour for,” they argue.

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