Work on a modern sewage treatment plant (STP) at the Sabarimala Sannidhanam is fast progressing so as to complete it before the beginning of the next annual Mandalam-Makaravilakku season in mid-November.

The High Power Committee (HPC) for implementation of the Sabarimala Master Plan, chaired by K.Jayakumar, former Chief Secretary, had launched the Rs 21.7-crore project on January 9.

The existing system is collection of sewage in septic tanks. After the first 7-10 days of pilgrimage, the human waste collection tanks get saturated and the sewage flows freely into the Pampa River through the Njunangar stream. This was witnessed during the just-concluded Vishu festival season that coincided with the 10-day temple festival when the Ayyappa Temple remains open for a period of 15 days ending on April 18.

The proposed STP site is located in a low-lying area near Malikappuram that enables gravity flow of the sewage into the STP. The project

envisages collection of sewage through a sewage network from all the existing locations and reaching it to the STP.

Talking to The Hindu, A.V. Viswanatha Menon, managing director of Vasco Environmental India Pvt Ltd, that is implementing the

project on behalf of the Hyderabad-based Ramky Constructions Pvt. Ltd., said the sewage would be treated through a highly sophisticated and evolved process that included anaerobic treatment, aerobic treatment and ozonation. This is a much more evolved and scientific system in comparison to the prevailing sewage treatment process at the STP at Pampa, which uses chemical treatment resulting in a large quantity of chemicals being introduced into the Pampa indirectly, he said.

Mr. Menon, who himself is a post-graduate in Environmental Engineering from the U.S., said ozonation had been proposed for the STP at

Sabarimala, instead of chlorination, with a view to reducing the chlorine level in the water. According to him, both the biological processes

were based on proven technologies and there was a long list of successes using both these technologies in India and abroad.

The treated waste water will be sent through the ozonation chamber for disinfection and disposal. The sludge would be collected in a sludge sump and solidified using a centrifuge for final disposal, he said.

Mr. Menon said the engineering design of the STP had been finalised after multiple interactions between the contractors, design and

engineering team, and technical experts attached to the HPC as well as various other stakeholders that included the Travancore Devaswom

Board, State Pollution Control Board, and the Forest Department.

The earthwork and other preliminary activities as part of the civil construction work is in an advanced stage for multiple units. Mr. Menon said the approved drawings were fast moving into an execution stream and every stakeholder was contributing in a pro-active manner in an effort to complete the project in a time-bound manner.

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