Structural issues come in the way of having STPs in apartment complexes

BWSSB has said there is no going back from the rule, and penalties will be imposed from January 1, 2018.

BWSSB has said there is no going back from the rule, and penalties will be imposed from January 1, 2018.  

In many cases, there is no space within their built-up premises to allow for construction

As apartment complexes rush towards meeting the deadline to install sewage treatment plants (STPs) within their premises, the harsh realities and the difficult technical challenges have started to sink in.

What the order states
  • Any apartment complexes with more than 50 dwelling units should install sewage treatment plant (STP)
  • Deadline: December 31, 2017
  • Penalty: First three months: 25% of water bill monthly; thereafter, 50% of water bill monthly
  • Issues: No space to construct STPs; structural stability of existing buildings could be endangered as underground STPs come close to load-bearing pillars; cost of STP becomes high

Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB) has set the deadline of December 31 for the installation of STPs in apartment complexes with more than 50 units. The problem, as many apartment associations have realised, is that there is no space within their built-up premises to allow for construction.

In a survey of three apartment complexes — comprising 320 households — in Malleswaram, structural consultants have ruled out the possibility of installing STPs as fresh construction close to the apartments would endanger the stability of the structures.

For instance, in a 165-unit apartment block, the mandated 100 kilolitre per day (kld) STP would require 63 sq. m. “To place this underground, they would have to dig 3 m deep. In essence, the STP will be squeezed close to the building and existing (load-bearing) columns which transfer the weight to the soil. Any digging close to his will lead to structural damage. It is risky,” said B.N. Nagaraja, a former Chief Engineer of the Central Public Works Department who conducted the survey along with a structural engineer and an STP consultant.

All three apartment complexes faced similar problems, where construction would either violate the Indian Building Code or the norms for parking set up by the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP). Structural engineer Ashok Rao said the as older apartments were constructed based on prevailing norms, implementing a system retrospectively could “endanger the entire structure”.

For the nearly 468 apartments at Jalvayu Towers, dominated by retired Defence personnel, the cost and space of constructing a nearly 400 kld STP is turning out to be an impossible task. “There is just no space. The parking lot will disappear, the STP will come close to the existing blocks, while dual piping will involve ripping out walls. It may cost up to ₹3 crore,” said Rear Admiral N.K. Mishra (retd). With an STP construction expected to take at least six months, the apartment complex will miss the deadline set by the BWSSB.

“The government has given us two choices: either risk the lives and livelihoods of thousands of people or be prepared to live without power and water,” said Muralidhar Rao, vice-president of the Bangalore Apartment Federation.

The BWSSB, however, said there was no going back from the rule, and penalties would be imposed from January 1, 2018.

“There are technologies that can produce compact STPs. This is a Government Order that has to be implemented,” said H.M. Ravindra, chief engineer, BWSSB, which has been sending notices as part of an “awareness campaign”.

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Printable version | May 31, 2020 1:50:38 AM |

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