Mayor says it will result in cost escalation and project delay

Mayor K. Chandrika has condemned the decision of the project monitoring unit of the Kerala Sustainable Urban Development Project (KSUDP) to retender works for expanding the sewage network in the city.

During a visit to the Muttathara sewage treatment plant, which started functioning on a trial basis last week, on Sunday morning, Ms. Chandrika spoke to local people, most of whom voiced the same complaint – that they did not have a connection to the sewage treatment plant but had borne with the raw sewage that came from across the city into their backyard.

She said there was a limit to what the city Corporation could physically do within the plant premises as it was responsible for only monitoring the implementing agencies.

The Mayor alleged that the KSUDP’s justification for retendering the works was that the estimates prepared were too high. This tendency to postpone work would lead to virtual doubling of the figures. In addition, the project would take years to materialise.

She criticised the government for neglecting the waste management aspect in the treatment of sludge, a final product after processing sewage. She said the Vilappilsala waste treatment plant had the facilities to dry the sludge.

“Sixty days after the sewage plant starts functioning is when copious amounts of sludge will be produced daily. If the Vilappilsala plant were to be reopened, this would not be an issue. Now, it is just a rush to open the sewage treatment plant before sorting out these issues beforehand,” Ms. Chandrika said.

She said the Corporation could only install biogas plants and pipe-composts; larger treatment plants requiring more funds needed government sanction.

Officials of the KSUDP, however, say there is no cause for concern as the technology of the sewage treatment plant ensures that the final products are clean and comply with the norms of the Pollution Control Board (PCB).

The treated water will have the biological oxygen demand (BOD) set by the PCB, and the sludge will be dried and used as manure. The STP was already armed with sludge-drying beds, they said.

For the people here, there are other immediate problems too. There is no wall that marks the boundary between houses and the plant, and for Anima, a resident, this is a cause for concern.

Cradling her four-year-old, she indicates two inlet tanks that lie a few feet from her house. It is into these wells that the raw black sewage comes pooling in and is then pumped into other chambers where the treatment takes place.

There is only a railing around the inlet tanks and no net.