Some of the illegal apartments in these areas (50% are illegal-according to estimates) were illegally discharging the arsenic and pathogenic sewage into the kaluve or halla, which is drained in all these lakes. The KSPCB and other concerned groups and citizens have taken up the matter seriously and will initiate the appropriate proceedings against the illegal housing apartment, which are discharging poison.
With no underground sewers in sight, apartments around Bellandur Lake have been given an ultimatum: either set up functional decentralised Sewage Treatment Plants (STPs) or transport sewage towards an STP and pay for its treatment.
The existing rule by the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB) on zero discharge from premises will be reinforced in the view of the National Green Tribunal order directing the clean up of the lake.
S.M. Ramakrishna, BWSSB Chief Engineer (Waste Water Management), says that the capability of STPs in Vrushabhavathy Valley is around 180 million litres a day, while currently, 120 MLD is being treated. “The cost of treatment is just ₹50 per 1,000 litres. This rule has been in force, and will see more apartments following it strictly,” he said.
Sharachchandra Lele, from ATREE (Asoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment), pointed out that the existing rule that does “allow liquid discharge outside premises” had seen issues in accountability.
Currently, KSPCB is inspecting the status of STPs in 157 apartments (more than 28,000 households) believed to be disposing nearly 22.54 MLD of sewage into the lake. This is apart from the 488 companies directly in the vicinity of the lake that release around 12.455 MLD of sewage. The board states that these apartments, hotels and hospitals, have, on paper, sewage treatment facilities that have the capacity to handle nearly 26.242 MLD of sewage.
However, field visits that are being conducted on a daily basis by regional officers paint a different picture. Already, more than 30 industries have been asked to shut down after inspections revealed that they were letting out their sewage without treatment. Field officers of KSPCB said a significant number of apartments were found with non-compliant STPs, and they have been given time to fix the same. Earlier in 2015, a similar check of some apartments had shown that 50% of STPs in apartments were not working.
“This is a big task considering that documents need to be verified and STP samples need to be tested. One officer can go to around 10 apartments in a day. We hope to do this by the weekend before the next NGT hearing on May 18,” said a KSPCB officer.
However, Namma Bengaluru Foundation – one of the petitioners in the NGT – has stated that this step ought to be completed using an integrated approach at dealing with SWDs.
Sridhar Pabbisetty, CEO, Namma Bengaluru Foundation, said, “KSPCB is acting as per the NGT directions (but) the issue of rampant encroachment by builders is a direct consequence of the government’s inability to protect our lakes.”
Many of these apartment complexes had not bothered about and are not at all bothered about the illegal poisonous and toxic discharge to the sewers and water bodies. Action will be soon be initiated on all apartment complexes, which does not have STP units, if not, have to discharge it elsewhere.