About 180 tanker loads of septage are unscientifically dumped every day in the district, M.S. Sheeba, technical officer (environment), Kerala Sustainable Urban Development Project (KSUDP), has said.

She was speaking to The Hindu on the sidelines of a workshop on septage management organised by the District Suchitwa Mission here on Monday.

There was no clear idea on how and where the septage was being dumped in the district as no agency had authorised anyone to do so, said Ms. Sheeba.

When one tanker load of sepatage is dumped, the district becomes equivalent to a place where 5,000 people defecate in the open. Going by that calculation, the district at present is similar to a place where nine lakh people openly defecate.

Nishad Narayanan, technical officer, KSUDP, said dumping of septage was a serious issue in the district because of its large floating population and relatively higher water table.

Mr. Narayanan said about 75 parties were actively involved in the clearing and illegal dumping of septage. “They charge upwards of Rs.1,000 depending on the financial status of their clients. A complete crackdown on their functioning has become impossible since authorities concerned are not in a position to point out an exact site being used for the dumping of sepatge,” he said.

At present, the district just has one sewage treatment plant (STP) at Elamkulam. The plant’s installed capacity of 4.5 MLD is insufficient compared to the existing demand. The State is running out of time to implement a Supreme Court direction to the government to set up at least one septage treatment plant in every district by early next year.

The Suchitwa Mission is in the process of setting up a standalone septage treatment plant at a cost of about Rs.23 lakh on the land owned by the Kochi Corporation in Brahmapuram. “Three bids have been received and they are being evaluated. The plant will be set up with the technical assistance of KSUDP,” Mr. Narayanan said.

Meanwhile, a STP that KSUDP proposes to set up with the assistance of the Asian Development Bank at Mudamveli in West Kochi is nowhere near take-off. Public protests have stalled the proposed plant, which has an installed capacity of 13 MLD. Mr. Narayanan said the protest was borne out of ignorance. Anyone who visits a similar plant set up by KSUDP at Thiruvananthapuram will be convinced that apprehensions of bad odour emanating from a STP are misplaced, he said.