Almost half of Coonoor town dumps waste directly into the Coonoor River
Highlighting the scale of the pollution of the Coonoor River, a survey conducted by the Coonoor Municipality (CMC) has revealed that around 5,000 households and over 100 commercial establishments in the town dump their sewage into the river.
The results of the survey, which were submitted to the National Green Tribunal (NGT) in January, reveals that 4,719 households and 113 commercial establishments were found to be pumping their sewage into the river. Official sources believe that there are around 12,000 houses within the town, of which only around 2,000 have installed septic tanks, while the remaining either dump their sewage directly into the river or into drains, which eventually makes its way into the river.
The municipality had stated that they had issued notices to 109 of the commercial establishments to cease dumping the waste into the river. They had also planned to begin sealing the establishments that were found to be in violation of the rules.
The pollution of the river has been one of the major concerns of conservationists in the Nilgiris, as it leads to the contamination of the Bhavani, a vital source of drinking water for residents living in surrounding districts and also for wildlife.
Municipal Engineer (CMC), V. Balamurugan, when contacted by The Hindu, said that notices will be issued to houses which have space to install septic tanks and choke pits but have failed to do so, while it has also been proposed to intercept sewage flowing through drains and other systems and treat the sewage at decentralized treatment systems.
P.J. Vasanthan, a trustee of ‘Clean Coonoor’ which has been spearheading the campaign to clean up the river said that overhauling the entire drainage system of the town would be a herculean challenge. “I think a viable option would be to implement a combined sewerage system, similar to those that have been used to manage the sewage and drainage problems in towns in Europe, which too have very old systems in place,” said Mr. Vasanthan. A combined sewer system in theory would collect both surface water and sewage, with the sewage being diverted to treatment plants.
Municipality officials said experts had visited the town and conducted a survey of the households. They are in the process of calculating the amount of sewage generated so that an effective management plan can be drawn up and implemented.