The Supreme Court on Monday gave interim relief to the residents of Kolar, parts of rural Bengaluru and Chikkaballapur districts in the Koramangala-Challaghatta (KC) Valley project case, while hearing a special leave petition filed by Kolar-based activist Anjaneya Reddy. The apex court stayed the Karnataka High Court order dated September 28, 2018 which allowed pumping of the partially treated sewage based on reports placed before it by the state government. The state government through those reports claimed that the water quality was compliant with the Environment (Protection) Rules, 1986.
However, activists and members of the Shashwatha Neeravari Horata Samiti claimed the report to be inaccurate. Prior to that, the HC itself in July had put a stay for over a month over supply of the treated sewage taking cognisance of reports submitted by the petitioners.
Those reports said the supplied water contained higher than permissible amounts of E.coli bacteria, heavy metals and dissolved oxygen. The HC then had also lambasted the state government for squandering public money on the KC Valley project supplying treated water from Bengaluru to lakes in Kolar.
“Earlier, the High Court had stayed the matter citing that the drinking water needs of the region have to be addressed first and assess how this project impacts the quality of drinking water sources in the area. We had then submitted reports which stated that the supplied water has high amounts of E.coli ( fecal bacteria) and heavy metals. The Supreme Court observed that the High Court should have taken note of the same and should not have allowed further supply of the water,” Prince Isac, advocate representing Anjaneya Reddy, explained.
He told TNM, “We were unhappy with the latest High Court order because this concerns the only drinking water source of 50 lakh people of the region, which is getting contaminated.”
The project was planned in order to recharge the groundwater of the parched regions by the state’s Minor Irrigation Department by supplying treated sewage water, including those from the infamous Bellandur and Varthur lakes in Bengaluru. But the project turned controversial due to the suspect quality of the supplied water since July 2018. Activists were forced to approach the judiciary after numerous protests failed to yield a satisfactory response from the political class.
The project in its planning stage was flagged by environmentalists and scientists alike, due to lack of tertiary treatment process. But the state government went ahead with the project without carrying out mandated environmental impact assessment (EIA) or addressing the concerns.