news Wednesday, July 08, 2015 - 05:30

Image for representation purpose only While the norm in Bengaluru is locals demanding Sewage Treatment Plants (STP) near lakes to prevent sewage water from polluting the lakes, a group of environmental activists are opposing the plant at the Agara lake in HSR Layout as they feel it may not serve its purpose. Last week, after the Karnataka High Court directed Bangalore Water Supply & Sewage Board (BWSSB) and Lake Development Authority (LDA) to set up an STP at Agara lake within six months, members of the Agara Lake Protection and Management Committee (ALPMC) feel that the plant is unnecessary. Kavitha Reddy, joint secretary of ALMC says that setting up a 3 million litres-per-day (MLD) STP on a small lake would not just be wastage of funds, but also inefficient as the plant would not be able to handle the incoming load. “We are not opposed to the idea of an STP. Instead of Agara, the civic authorities can establish a bigger plant at Bellandur which is very polluted. The current proposal at Agara lake is not practical,” she says. Citing the example of STP at Madivala which has a capacity of 4 MLD, she says it is not functional and has not been able to handle the load. Citizen groups have been actively protecting the lakes by installing gates or valves at five different inlet points, thereby preventing the flow of sewage water into the lake. The gates are opened only during rains to allow rain-water collected in the storm water drains to flow into the lake, thus helping it recharge. Kavitha contends that the group which filed the Public Interest Litigation (PIL) in Karnataka High Court in favor of setting up an STP did not inform the court that several residents were against the proposal. In a public hearing meeting with the BWSSB officials and LDA earlier, some of the residents had opposed its proposal, she adds. “Irony of the situation is that none of those who filed the PIL stay near the lake, it is we who are staying in close proximity and yet we did not get any notification,” she says. She claims that there is collusion between officials of the civic agency and local leaders, and that they are trying to implement the proposal in a hurry. Brigadier (retd.) RS Murthy, an environmental activist and part of Save Agara Lake Forum, says that since the area surrounding the lake was a residential area, establishing an STP would result in unbearable stench and that discharge of effluents to the lake which would ruin its ecosystem. â€śThe catchment area has already been encroached upon, preventing rain water from draining into the lake. By setting up a STP, it will cram the space around the lake further,” says Murthy. Other residents of the area echo his sentiment and say that since the area is already thickly populated, having a STP is not feasible. However, in a PIL filed by HSR Layout VII Sector Residents Welfare Association in 2014, they cite Justice NK Patil’s  report - “Preservation of Lakes in the City of Bangalore” submitted in 2011, in which he contends that a STP needs to be installed to allow treated water in the lake to prevent pollution. They further state in the litigation that the residents in HSR Layout had been suffering from diseases like malaria, dengue and chikengunya due to the polluted water which has put their life at risk. The report observes that though rain water may contain sewage, it is also a source to recharge the lake. Therefore, diverting it would lead to drying up of lakes, as in the case of Agara lake. “This being the case the agencies developing the lakes may have to invariably go for a Sewage Treatment Plant for an individual lake or a group of interconnected lakes," the report states. Unhappy with the court’s decision, Kavita says citizen groups will be filing a writ petition in the High Court to prevent the establishment of the Sewage Treatment Plant.

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