Bengaluru

If found guilty, BWSSB top brass face prison sentence

Lack of Will: there is an 8 MLD Sewage Treatment Plant on the bed of Madiwala lake but it is dysfunctional and lets untreated sewage into the lake: Photo: Bhagya Prakash K  

In a first, the top brass of Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB), often accused of letting sewage into lakes, is being held accountable as a city court has found prima facie case against them under the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974.

Chairman T.M. Vijaya Bhaskar, two of his predecessors Anjum Parvez and Ravishankar, and 10 engineering staff will face a criminal trial for letting sewage into Hulimavu, Madiwala and Arekere lakes. If found guilty, they face a prison sentence.

In January 2016, the V Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate (ACMM) court, hearing a private complaint by Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB), ordered registration of the case and issued summons. The chairman and others were supposed to file their reply on March 22. However, the agency has sought more time. The case has been adjourned to June.

KSPCB was moved to file the case in 2015 following a complaint by Wg. Cdr. G B Atri (retd.), who is leading lake watchdog committees of the three water bodies. The committees were formed by KSPCB in partnership with local residents. “It is criminal of BWSSB, which is duty bound to protect the lakes, to be the biggest polluter of the water bodies. Incidentally, the BWSSB chairman is also an ex-officio member of KSPCB,” Mr. Atri said.

KSPCB had issued several notices asking BWSSB to stop letting sewage into these lakes in 2014. When this failed, KSPCB went ahead with the criminal suit, said a senior official.

BWSSB Chairman T.M. Vijay Bhaskar said that setting up of Sewage Treatment Plants (STP) is a larger systemic issue that needs investment from the government. “We will defend the agency in the court through legal means,” he said.

However, it’s not just the lack of STPs that has ruined these three lakes. An eight MLD STP on the bed of Madiwala lake is dysfunctional and let untreated sewage into the lake.

“BWSSB has handed over the dysfunctional STP to the Lake Development Authority (LDA). Not just the STP, the drainage line of BWSSB in the area is leaking, letting sewage seep into the lake through the wetlands,” Mr. Atri alleged.

‘No lake rejuvenation till STPs are built’

Bangalore Development Authority (BDA) spent Rs. 7.16 crore over the past two years rejuvenating Arekere lake. However, green activists point out that the effort has been a failure, as the lake yet to see fresh water. However, untreated sewage continues to be dumped in the lake.

A proposal to set up a 5 MLD Sewage Treatment Plant (STP) has been pending for years now. By trying to rejuvenate the lake before setting up the STP, the effort has been rendered useless.

BDA has prepared a Detailed Project Reports (DPR) for rejuvenation of Hulimavu lake (Rs. 25 crore) and Madiwala lake (Rs. 26 crore). However, learning their lessons from Arekere lake, the lake watch committees of Hulimavu and Madiwala have put the efforts on hold till STPs are built on these lake beds to ensure no untreated sewage is dumped.

In the recently presented State budget, the government offered to contribute 20 per cent of the funds for setting up two STPs of 8 MLD capacity each at Hulimavu, with the rest of the funds coming from the Union government under the AMRUT Scheme.

There is a proposal to build a 5 MLD STP at Arekere lake.

Lakes

Area

(acres–guntas)

Rejuvenation efforts

Sewage being let into from these areas

STP suggested

Section 24 and 25 of Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974

Section 43 and 44 of Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974

Quote Box

Wg. Cdr. G. B. Atri (retd.)

— T.M. Vijay Bhaskar, Chairman, BWSSB


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Printable version | Sep 24, 2021 11:31:51 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/bangalore/If-found-guilty-BWSSB-top-brass-face-prison-sentence/article14176217.ece

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