Water from Amayizhanjan and Ulloor canals will be treated before it reaches the lake.

Even as the city is getting ready for its first sewage treatment plant (STP) at Muttathara, expected to be commissioned later this month, decks have been cleared for another STP at Akkulam.

Orders have been issued to transfer to the Kerala Water Authority a sum of Rs.4.298 crore, which came from the Centre under the National Lake Conservation Programme (NLCP) about seven years back and lay unspent with the Kerala Sustainable Urban Development Project (KSUDP) before being transferred to the Irrigation Department. The KWA is to utilise the amount to construct and maintain the STP at Akkulam for treating water from the Amayizhanjan and Ulloor canals before it reaches the Akkulam lake.

According to P. Lathika, Chief Engineer (Irrigation and Administration), the grant was originally for environmental regeneration of the Veli-Akkulam lake, which was to be done by Travancore Cements Limited (TCL). Since the regeneration project remained a non-starter, it was decided to use the funds for the STP.

Meanwhile, TCL was asked to speed up the de-silting and de-weeding works, failing which the work would be cancelled and rearranged with another agency, Ms. Lathika said.

KWA Managing Director Ashok Kumar Singh said WASCON, the consultancy wing of the KWA, had been entrusted with the job of conducting field studies and to prepare a Detailed Project Report. The help of the Irrigation Department would be sought to identify the project site at Akkulam. The DPR and other preliminary proceedings were expected to be completed in two months, he said.

The sum of Rs.4.30 crore, in fact, has quite a long history, even drawing criticism from the Comptroller and Auditor General Performance Audit on Water Pollution in India, for its non-utilisation. The CAG report had pointed out that despite earmarking Rs.24.56 crore under the NLCP, the project for restoration/conservation of Veli-Akkulam lake had not taken off.

According to officials, the restoration/conservation project had envisaged two STPs at Ulloor and Valiathura. Apart from the sewage system, dredging, site protection and beautification too were part of the project, for which Rs.24.56 crore was sanctioned in 2005. Entrusted with the Tourism Department, KSUDP was the implementation agency and in 2006, the Centre released Rs.4.30 crore.

Meanwhile, with the Muttathara STP being proposed under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission, the idea for two STPs at Ulloor and Valiathura was abandoned. Now, with the project going nowhere even after the CAG report, the STP proposal has been revived, this time shifting it to Akkulam and to concentrate on preventing the city’s waste reaching the lake through the Amayizhanjan and Ulloor canals.

Earlier, different projects were announced and several crores were earmarked for clearing the lake of its hyacinth menace and to make the District Tourism Promotion Council’s Boat Club, a popular retreat for the city’s public, a better tourist spot. These, however, have so far remained on the paper.