Stung by the Supreme Court’s criticism of its failure to install sewage treatment plants (STPs) in all districts, the State has decided to speed up its action plan submitted to the court in 2011. At the same time, in a report to be submitted to the apex court on Friday, the State will point out that it was public objection that stood as a major obstacle in the path of at least 12 plants for which preparations were almost over.
The Local Self Government Department is preparing the report after a high-level meeting here on Tuesday to review the progress of the 2011 action plan. The report, official sources said, would point out that the Muttathara STP in Thiruvananthapuram was almost complete and that steps were afoot to commission it in a month.
Three similar projects in Kochi, Kollam, and Kozhikode were in various stages of tendering. These would be co-treatment plants, where both sewage and septage would be treated, while plans were afoot for stand-alone plants, where septage alone would be treated, in nine districts including Pathanamthitta, Kottayam, Alappuzha, Thrissur, Wayanad, and Kannur. Though land, predominantly agriculture land, was identified for these, the District Collectors were unable to proceed with the plan due to public opposition.
The State would undertake a mass awareness campaign to convince the public, the court would be told. The Muttathara STP and two standalone plants in Malappuram and Palakkad would be developed as models to make the public realise that STPs meant no danger. The court would also be told that the existing sewage treatment plant at Elamkulam, Kochi, was being upgraded to handle septage as well, with Rs.1 crore sanctioned to the Kerala Water Authority for this. .
“The public cannot be blamed entirely, because past experience has been such. At the same time, there is a ‘Not in My Backyard’ syndrome here. People have to be convinced,” a senior official said.