STP has residents of gated community worried

Fear increase in odour and incessant noise from the machines

March 24, 2018 10:51 pm | Updated March 25, 2018 04:04 pm IST

 The 20 MLD Doddabele Sewage Treatment Plant in Kengeri.

The 20 MLD Doddabele Sewage Treatment Plant in Kengeri.

The recent inauguration spree, which included Sewage Treatment Plants (STPs) touted as the panacea for the city’s lakes, however, brought a sense of fear for residents of a gated community near Kengeri.

The 20 million litre per day (MLD) Doddabele Sewage Treatment Plant (STP), which will treat the sewage that flows towards the Vrushabhavathy river, shares a compound wall with the 57-family-strong community.

Residents fear that the newly-commissioned STP will increase odour in the area, apart from incessant noise from the machines. On Saturday, they were taken on a tour of the plant.

“The odour in STPs at Mylasandra and other plants is unbearable. This STP is right next to our homes and it will seriously lower the quality of life,” said Procheta Mallik, a resident who was among the group that was taken to the plant to allay concerns. However, with the STP set to be operational in May, the group was not convinced.

The concerns are part of a larger issue with the planning of STPs. It was only after the start of construction that residents were made aware that an STP was being constructed next to their houses.

No STP guidelines

Moreover, Karnataka does not have STP guidelines that mandate remedial measures when constructing close to residential areas. While Bihar has guidelines stating that STPs should come up 500 metres away from residential areas, in neighbouring Tamil Nadu, large-scale STPs should have a 250-metre buffer zone, which includes a 100-metre no-go area.

Priyanka Jamwal, a researcher from Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment (ATREE), says having a malfunctioning STP close to a residential complex can lead to two issues. “First, there is the issue of smell, which could intensify. There could also be a small possibility of a health hazard, as the aerators within the STP constantly throw up droplets of water in the air which could lead to the spread of contagions,” she said. A buffer of trees could prevent the contagions from spreading.

While vouching for buffer limits for STPs greater than 30MLD capacity, Ananth Kodavasal, a consultant who drafted STP guidelines for Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB), said, “If STPs are designed right and maintained well, there will be no issues. But, while BWSSB has the money to build STPs, they don’t have the money for maintenance.”

With malfunctioning or underperforming STPs a real concern, ATREE Researcher Sharachchandra Lele believes civic authorities need to involve residents in the process of planning and supervision. “A fair compromise must be reached, as we can’t keep shifting STPs further from the city. Residents must be kept in the loop, and complaints and concerns addressed immediately,” he said.

Kemparamaiah, Chief Engineer of Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB), said it was impossible now to find land for STPs that are not close to residential communities. “Even STPs formerly on the outskirts are in the middle of bustling residential areas. But, there have been no complaints, and remedial measures are being taken to ensure stench is contained,” he said.

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