The large Sewage Treatment Plant (STP) at Kengeri is yet to start functioning at it’s full potential due to incomplete electrical works.
Kolkata April 17, 2020
The Rs 20 crore-worth primary collection tank and bioreactor at the Kengeri STP has been lying idle and un-operational since the inauguration of the plant in 2018, engineers on-site say.
Although the infrastructure is complete, electrical and mechanical work is yet to start, an on-site visit revealed.
“The infrastructure is complete, but roughly, another Rs 40 crore will be required for electrical works for the additional plant to be operational,” said Mr. D. Joseph, Assistant Chief Engineer of the plant.
In March 2018, as part of the funding from Japan International Co-operation Agency (JICA) to the BWSSB (Bangalore Water Supply and Sewage Board), an STP, with a capacity of 60 Million Litres Per Day (MLD), was inaugurated at Kengeri. The construction work was taken up by Degremont and Degremont Pvt. Ltd at a cost of Rs 239 crore, news reports show. At the same site, the BWSSB completed civil works – worth Rs 20 crore for treating an additional 20 MLD of waste water. But while the 60 MLD plant is up and running the Rs 20 crore facility has not been operational since its construction.
Recently, citing an increase in the operational expenditure, the BWSSB was quick to suggest a hike in water tariff. Some felt that the financial burden on residents was being increased instead of using existing STPs to their utmost potential for obtaining clean water. Mr. B M Manjunath, public relations officer of BWSSB enunciated the government body’s point of view.
“A 35 percent hike in water tax has been proposed but this is not only to cover the operational expenses. This extra tax will be used for repaying of loans taken from private organizations. Plus, we planned on completing the additional infrastructure of the Kengeri STP long ago, but the whole process was halted due to the ACB (Anti-Corruption Bureau) probe,” said Mr. Manjunath.
In April 2019, the Kengeri STP courted controversy when the ACB started investigating BWSSB, for suspected irregularities in the construction of the STP. Later, two senior engineers of BWSSB were charged for using cheaper and substandard material in the construction. They were also found not to be adhering to the BWSSB’s specifications.
The Kengeri STP had been set up with the primary objective of ensuring that the sewage from the catchment area of Vrishabhavati Valley is treated, before it flows into nearby lakes, like the Byramangala lake. The Vrishbhavati valley is the dumping ground of effluent from a lot of nearby villages namely, Kumbalgodu, Rajarajeshwari Nagar, Golahalli, Gottigere, etc.
Talking about the importance of treated sewage water as a source of clean water in the city, which has often been predicted to face water scarcity soon, eminent environmentalist Sandeep Anirudhan said, “At the current rate, water will suffer the same fate a soil in Bangalore. The demand would stay steady but supply will dwindle.” The Sewage Treatment Plants provide an excellent alternative source for clean water, he said, and the authorities should tap this source to its utmost potential to save the city from the looming water crisis.
Multimedia element- Infographics on water tax structure in Bangalore; photos of the Rs. 20 crore idle plant in Kengeri; infographic on working of an STP