Even as the State government and the Thiruvananthapuram Corporation remain on uneasy terms over the inauguration of the Muttathara sewage treatment plant (STP), much has been left unsaid about the bottlenecks plaguing the expansion of the city’s sewerage network, upon which actual success of the STP depends.
As of now, the STP had sewage coming in from only five blocks (A, B, C, D, and E) out of the 18 sewerage blocks, which translates roughly into about only 30 per cent of the entire sewage load of the city. Though the State government, while announcing its now-postponed plans to open the STP, said work was ‘progressing swiftly’ in all the 18 blocks, ground reality appears to be different. The network expansion was being done as a Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) project with the Kerala Water Authority (KWA) as the implementing agency.
According to information available from the project office, work was yet to begin on the 13 blocks that do not have a sewerage network.
The main issue was that the Corporation, mandated by the JNNURM guidelines to acquire land for pumping stations for the project, had failed to do so in any of the 13 blocks.
And the KWA was sticking to its stance that it will not start laying the pipes unless the sites were acquired since sewage pipelines without pumping stations were useless and an inconvenience to the public.
That was not all. The KWA had submitted detailed project reports (DPR) for all 13 blocks to the Union Ministry of Urban Development and got sanction way back in 2007.
These DPRs were on the basis of designs that had pumping stations on sites identified by the KWA. But with the Corporation failing to convince the public on land for the pumping stations on these sites, all these DPRs, and their designs, had now become redundant.
Moreover, even if the land was acquired in another three months, the funds would lapse by March 2014 and fresh approval, along with fresh DPRs, would become mandatory. And if land was acquired on a site different from that identified by the KWA, then the entire design would have to be revised, sources said.
The sewerage network that exists now is for Block A (covering most parts of the Secretariat, Palayam, Thampanoor, Vazhuthacaud, Thycaud etc.); Block B (mostly parts of Kuravankonam, Nanthancode, Kannammoola, Pettah, Vanchiyoor, Chala, Kuriyathy etc.); Block C (parts of Fort, Manacaud, Sreevaraham, Attukal, Ambalathara, Chakka etc.); Block D (most areas of Pattom, Goureeshapattom, Kesavadasapuram, Muttada etc.); and Block E (parts of Poojapura, Mudavanmugal, Shastamangalam, Pangode, Kowdiar etc.).
However, even this coverage is incomplete. Block C and D have only 75 per cent coverage, while Block E has only namesake coverage with work still in progress. Sewage from these blocks comes via different pumping stations to four main stations at Kuriyathy, Pattoor, Eenchakkal, Kannammoola, and Valiyamala, from where it is routed to the Muttathara STP.