Residents of HSR Layout were surprised on Wednesday to see Somasundarapalya lake in the neighbourhood frothing at the point where the drain of a compost plant meets its shores. To their horror, they realised that leachate from Karnataka Compost Development Corporation (KCDC) plant was flowing into the lake from the drain, which had been closed barely a fortnight ago. As people began to protest, the drain from the plant to the lake was sealed again before more damage could be done.
Frothing in the lake
“As we rushed to the spot, we found large quantities of leachate being let into the lake and there was also mild frothing in the lake at the inlet point,” said Kavita Reddy, a resident and activist from Hasiru Mitra.
According to civic officials, the leakage happened by mistake while KCDC officials were experimenting on a new odour-control technology. Members of the Solid Waste Management Expert Committee were present at the time.
Sarfaraz Khan, Joint Commissioner, SWM, BBMP, confirmed that a team of experts was carrying out trial of microbial treatment to sludge and leachate to reduce odour. “As they were trying to run the microbial treatment at the leachate tank, the outlet opened by an accident, letting it into the lake. This was only an accident,” he claimed.
However, this is not the first time that leachate from the plant was let into the lake. While residents of the posh HSR Layout have been protesting against the plant for over two years now, mainly over the odour issues, the pollution of the lake has also been a bone of contention.
Many, however, are leery of the accident theory put forth by the civic body, saying the drain from the plant to the lake was filled up with mud during a Karnataka State Pollution Control Board inspection last week. “The reopening of the drain that was filled up on directions of the KSPCB cannot be accidental,” Ms. Reddy argued. Two weeks ago, Lakshman, chairman of the KSPCB, had conducted a spot inspection and saw that the inlet of leachate and other effluents from the plant into the lake through the drain. KSPCB officials shut down the drain during the inspection. “The leachate tank in the plant is too small and its capacity needs to be increased. We will issue notices to the BBMP and the KCDC, if the drain is reopened and leachate let in,” he said.
Following a bitter showdown between residents and officials from the KCDC and the civic body on Wednesday, the officials used earthmovers and again closed down the drain.
Leachate treatment plant awaiting approval
The BBMP has been working on installing biofilters at Karnataka Compost Development Corporation (KCDC) plant to tackle problems related to odour. There is also a proposal to install an in-house leachate treatment plant, which is pending for approval before a high-powered committee in the Urban Development Department.