Apartments and the pollution control board are at loggerheads again after residents were served notices threatening disconnection of electricity for ‘violations’ in Sewage Treatment Plant (STP) norms.
However, residents and the Bangalore Apartments’ Federation (BAF) have called it an attempt to harass them, with the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB) over-reaching its mandate.
While an estimated 100 apartments have received notices, Vaishnavi Ratham in T. Dasarahalli, which has 360 households, is the first known case where KSPCB officers have asked that electricity connections be cut.
The notice filed states that the apartment had not been reusing all the treated water from its STP or installed dual piping. It also said that residents had neither installed Organic Waste Converters (to process wet waste) nor ‘trained’ operators to maintain the STP.
However, the apartment complex says that its STP has been functioning since 2012 and much of what has been faulted was not ‘mandatory’.
“There was a delay in filing for renewal, but KSPCB officials started pointing out things which are not mandatory for apartments built before 2016. Neither dual piping nor Organic Waste Converters are legally mandatory.
“Instead, they pointed us to a consultant who demanded Rs. 5 lakh just to get the licence renewed,” says Bibartan Roy, president of the Vaishnavi Rathnam Apartment Residents Association.
Residents allege harassment
It was only earlier this year that apartment residents had some succour after a protracted fight against Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB) on sewerage rules.
Apartments constructed before 2016 were exempted from the rules which states that dual piping and complete reuse of STP water was not mandated for apartments connected to the sewerage network.
“This is nothing but harassment. Scores of apartments have got these notices for various reasons, most of them not mandatory. But, KSPCB says it is following its own consent mechanisms, which according to notifications by MoEF and Central Pollution Control Board do not apply for these apartments...For instance, who is to define who a trained operator is if the KSPCB does not have a list of accredited STP operations?” says Srikanth Narasimhan, general secretary of BAF.
KSPCB Chairman Lakshman said the drive was being intensified in Hebbal, Byramanagala and Bellandur valleys.
“We are insisting on multiple conditions so that there can be some amount of enforcement. Currently, there is no accountability of functioning Sewage Treatment Plants, whether the flow matches the consent, and whether manure being generated is being treated.
“By enforcing these conditions, we can ensure that most apartments comply... Action on this front cannot be called harassment,” he said.
This is nothing but harassment... For instance, who is to define who a trained operator is if the KSPCB does not have a list of accredited STP operations?
general secretary, BAF
Currently, there is no accountability of functioning STPs, whether the flow matches the consent, and whether manure being generated is being treated