Mid-October, Anila SK, a resident of Thiruvananthapuram district, shared her experience with septic tank cleaning at her house, on a Facebook group. She had to open the tank for cleaning since it was leaking into the next plot. Anila took the advice of some people she knew and did not try to contact the Thiruvananthapuram Corporation. Instead she called up a private agency she saw enlisted on the internet. The agency sent someone to see the location who went away promising to come back and drain the tank at night. After two nights of no one turning up and watching in dread an open septic tank at the back of her house, Anila was surprised to get a call from the Corporation office. Within an hour someone from the Corporation came and drained both her sewage pits and left with a payment.
â€śThe person from the private agency was insistent that they will come to do the work only at nights. I later realised that this was because they did not have a license. I was also surprised at how the Corporation knew about the issue without my having contacted them. They said that they came to know of it through my online inquiry (I used JustDial to get the private agencyâ€™s contact),â€ť Anila tells TNM.
More than two years ago, the Corporation council passed a bylaw to monitor septic tank (waste) collection. Private agencies can register with the Corporation to get a license. The public who wish to avail the services can register online for it and make the payment. The Smart Trivandrum app, released by the Corporation, can be used for the purpose.
However agencies which are not licensed by the Corporation will not be permitted to do the work within the Corporation limits. "The law had to be brought into place after several private agencies began dumping the sewage waste into canals or rivers, instead of taking it to the Muttathara sewage treatment plant that was set up for the purpose," says Corporation secretary Binu Francis.
Through the Smart Trivandrum app, the vehicle collecting the sewage waste will always be tracked through GPS mapping. â€śWe will know where they collect it from and where they dump it. Only those vehicles which have installed the app are allowed to run,â€ť Binu adds.
Anila, who came back to Thiruvananthapuram after living away for years, was not familiar with the system. â€śThere is a general lack of awareness on the subject as I was advised by a few to approach a private company. Even when I posted this on FB, the comments I received supported the fact that not many people knew about the system in place."
She also heard that sheâ€™d end up paying a fine along with the private collector if they were caught. â€śI didnâ€™t know about this bylaw. It was later I knew that every private agency neednâ€™t be authorised. Someone said that there is a huge fine to pay if we are caught using such a service, the agency paying 60% and the remaining falling upon us.â€ť
However Binu says that that is not usually done. If unauthorised private agencies are caught doing the work, a fine of Rs 25,000 is imposed on them. But nothing is collected from the people employing them.