Kochi has unique problems in setting up a sewage system

A permanent solution to the problem of treating and disposing sewage eludes Kochi. The civic administration and planners are exploring various methods to set up a sewage disposal system that can address the city’s present and future needs.

One among these methods is a septage pipeline network that brings toilet waste from the entire city to a central plant for processing. To put in such a system, pipes will have to be placed along an incline to small plants in different parts of the city, from where the septage would be pumped to a central plant. Here, the waste could be broken down and released after treatment.

Only about five per cent of the city now has septage pipes linked to a processing plant, said K.J. Sohan, chairman of the Town Planning committee of the Kochi Corporation. Funds have been made available to link another 20 per cent of the city to treatment plants, he said.

A few town planners believe that linking the whole city to a central plant could be an uphill task. Dividing the city into several zones and setting up treatment plants in each of these would be more suitable for the city, said V. Gopalakrishna Pillai, chief town planner, Greater Cochin Development Authority. Two or three divisions could be clubbed together and one treatment plant could be set up for the area.

These plants should be built without inconveniencing the public and buffer zones should be put in place to ensure this, he said. Mr. Pillai cited the example of an existing treatment plant that caters to the Marine Drive stretch.

The topography of the city, its high water table, canals, tides, and heavy rainfall could make it difficult to set up treatment plants in low-lying regions of the city, according to experts.

Meanwhile, two sewage treatment plants are being planned in the city. A plant has been proposed in land owned by the Cochin Port Trust. There are also proposals to convert an old Kerala Water Authority plant at Elamkulam into a sewage treatment plant, said Mr. Sohan.

Toilet waste would have to be collected from households in tanker lorries using suction pumps. The waste would be brought to the plants for treatment by road. However, it is still a long way off before these plans materialise.

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