The civic agencies in Bengaluru have a history of not taking action against violators.

Notices to 497 Bengaluru properties for dumping sewage into storm drains
news Civic Issues Monday, April 29, 2019 - 17:20

About two years ago, heavy rainfall lashed Bengaluru and brought the city to a standstill. The flooded roads resembled murky sewage pits and residents had to buy inflatable boats to navigate the streets. One of the primary causes for the flooding was attributed to sewage flowing into the storm water drainage system and the rampant encroachment of such drains. With the monsoon coming up, the Bengaluru Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB) has now sent notices to residents of 497 properties in Bengaluru for allowing sewage to flow into the storm water drains.

The BWSSB has also sent a list of addresses of these 497 properties to the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board. Speaking to TNM, Kemparamaiah, Chief Engineer of BWSSB, says that the National Green Tribunal had directed the agency to come up with an action plan to rid storm water drains of sewage. “We are just carrying out NGT orders,” he added.

Violators to be fined

Kemparamaiah says that Prestige Shantiniketan near Whitefield Main Road, Pebble Creek and Brooke Enclave along ITPL Main Road, Gopalan enclave along ECC Road, Shree Chaitanya Techno School located in Mahalakshmi Layout and DS Max Apartment in Banaswadi were some of the major violators.

“East Zone has the highest number of violators. Almost half the number of properties which have allowed sewage to run into the SWDs are in the east zone. There are 276 properties in one zone which have been sent notices. Most of these are independent houses and not apartments,” he added.

Those who have been identified as violators will have time to respond for one week after which the BWSSB officials will issue a second round of notices. "If there is no response then criminal action will be taken against them. We can file a complaint and ask the police to book them under IPC Section 432 (causing inundation of streets by encroaching storm water drain)," he added.

BWSSB has now decided to impose a fine of Rs 5,000 on violators. “They will be fined and will be given a chance to obtain permits for sewage connections from BWSSB. If they rectify the matter well and good but those who do not get sewage connections despite warnings, we will take criminal action against them,” Kemparamaiah added.

On the other hand, BBMP is now mulling over razing illegal structures that have encroached upon the drains. “We are thinking whether to raze portions of buildings that have violated norms and encroached on storm water drains,” a senior BBMP official said.

All talk and no action?

In the past too, the BWSSB has promised action against violations but nothing has happened.

Bengaluru has a network of 1,090 km storm water drains and since 2004, the alterations made to the wetlands in the city resulted in rampant storm water drain encroachment and sewage inflow into drains meant to carry rainwater. The situation further aggravated in 2008. According to BBMP Chief Engineer (Storm Water Drain Department), 501 acres of drains have been encroached upon currently and sewage inflow is present in most of the SWD network.

This is not the first time the BWSSB has carried out drives to check the rampant discharge of sewage into the drains. In 2016, when the rains had ravaged Bengaluru and caused the city streets to flood, the storm water drain encroachment and the rampant sewage inflow into these drains were identified as the main problem.

Back then too, the BWSSB had identified over hundreds of independent houses and apartments in the city, which had allowed sewage to flow into storm drains. On the other hand, the BBMP had razed 141 buildings that had encroached on storm water drains.

The pressure for action against negligent officials was so high that 20 officials from the BBMP, Bengaluru Development Authority and the Department of Town and Country Planning were booked under various sections of the Karnataka Municipal Corporation Act and IPC. An inquiry, however, gave 18 out of these 20 officials a clean chit as B reports (case closed due to lack of evidence) were filed in these cases.

“The officials had given permission to construct houses on storm water drains and BWSSB had not bothered to keep a watch on illegal sewage disposal into storm water drains. BWSSB ended up imposing a fine of Rs 5,000 on violators, who never bothered to restructure their sewage connections. So far, not a single BWSSB official has been held responsible for the sewage flow in the storm drains. Let the BWSSB ensure that not a single drop of sewage flows into the storm drains then we will also be able to maintain the drains properly,” a senior BBMP official said.



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