Work on plant was suspended after allegations of violation of CRZ norms

The Kochi Corporation will approach the Kerala Coastal Zone Management Authority (KCZMA) to request the removal of its objection to a sewage treatment plant (STP) proposed at Mundamveli in West Kochi.

Speaking after a meeting held at the council hall on Friday to hear complaints on the proposed project, Mayor Tony Chammany said that the corporation would write to the KCZMA since no complaints were raised at the meeting. He said that though a case was pending in the High Court on the sewage plant, the court had not stopped the corporation from going ahead with the proposal and as such, the only objection to the project was from KCZMA.

The work on the proposed plant under the Kerala State Urban Development Project (KSUDP) had been suspended after complaints that the plant was being set up in violation of Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) norms.

KSUDP authorities had told the Mayor that there was a danger of the Asian Development Bank loan getting lapsed if the STP package was not tendered by December 31. The Rs.93-crore loan is for the proposed plant and associated infrastructure.

Out of the total allocation, Rs.19 crore is for setting up the plant, Rs.4 crore for land filling, and the rest for laying sewage pipelines to the plant and setting up pump stations. The plant is proposed on five acres with an initial capacity of 12 MLD out of a total capacity of 23 MLD.

Once the work is started it would take about two years for the plant to become operational. The construction of the plant and its operation and maintenance for the first five years would be the responsibility of the contractor chosen, while the overall control would be with the KSUDP and the corporation.

In their presentation, a KSUDP technical team dispelled doubts that the plant would be a cause for pollution. The plant would have an inbuilt odour control system while the treated water from the plant would be of a quality superior even to the norms set by the Pollution Control Board, they said. There are 49 such plants in Tamil Nadu located in residential areas.

Using treated water

With additional investment, the treated water could be used for diverse purposes like agriculture, landscaping and construction rather than being simply drained out. The corporation secretary said the treated water could be sold to prospective customers drawing from the experience in Coimbatore where it is being used by local industries.

It was noted out that the plant would not lead to destruction of mangroves as feared by environmentalists. The project proposes a green belt of 10 m width, in addition to an outer border of mangroves around the plant.

Two technologies have been shortlisted for adoption in the plant — Moving Bed Biofilm Reactor and Sequencing Batch Reactor. Technologically feasible and economically acceptable technology will be adopted, KSUDP officials said.

Allaying doubts expressed by councillors, KSUDP officials said that once the plant was commissioned there would be no need for individual septic tanks, while leakage at any point could be detected using CCTVs though it would entail additional cost. 

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