Kerala Water Authority Managing Director Ashok Kumar Singh told The Hindu that the trial run was progressing smoothly, but there was a big concern over proper disposal of sludge.

Lack of a proper mechanism to dispose of the sludge generated at the sewage treatment plant at Muttathara has become a problem for the Kerala Water Authority. The ongoing trial run of the plant will come to an end in a month’s time.

Kerala Water Authority Managing Director Ashok Kumar Singh told The Hindu that the trial run was progressing smoothly, but there was a big concern over proper disposal of sludge.

The sludge accumulated, he said, was earlier planned to be taken to the Vilappilsala garbage plant but the plan went awry after the government decided to close down the garbage yard. Following the plant’s closure, the KWA wrote to the Fertilizers and Chemicals Travancore Limited (FACT) requesting them to collect the sludge to be used as a component in making fertilizer.

However, FACT expressed its inability to use the sludge, Mr. Singh said adding that its effort to dump the sludge in a “safe manner” inside forests did not get the approval of the Forest Department.

In abeyance

After the KWA invited private agencies to manage the sludge, a Pune-based society came forward, but the conditions put forth by the group, including setting apart five acres of land for establishing a biogas plant, were not acceptable to the government. The proposal had been kept in abeyance, he said.

The KWA had also toyed with the idea of generating power from the sludge but a technical study ruled out the possibility. After running out of all options, the authority was now exploring the option of drying the sludge so that it could be used for landfill, said another official with the KWA

“By a month’s time the plant will start generating 12 to 15 tonnes of sludge a day. It’s a serious issue for which we are yet to find a permanent solution. As a short-term measure, KWA was planning to construct a facility near the plant site having the capacity to store at least 300 tonnes of sludge,” the official said.

Meanwhile, the authority was going ahead with the plan to set up other components for the successful running of the plant, including a compound wall, transformers and giving an aerial cover to the plant, as mandated by the Airports Authority of India to prevent bird strikes, he said.