In a major relief for residents in Kolar, where frothy water was supplied as part of the controversial Koramangala-Challaghatta (KC) Valley Project in Bengaluru, the Karnataka High Court on Tuesday asked to stall the further supply of the partially treated water.
In addition to the interim order, the bench of Chief Justice Dinesh Maheshwari and Justice R Devdas issued a notice to the state government on the matter while hearing a PIL filed by Shashwatha Neeravari Horata Samiti. The case will be heard again on August 1.
Activists of the Samiti in Kolar had threatened to send the frothy water to legislators after the contaminated water was found in Kolar.
An activist, who was present on Tuesday’s hearing, told TNM that the court was unhappy with the government’s response on the issue.
“The court was not satisfied with the documents submitted on behalf of the government. In its opinion, the court expressed the quality of water is not up to desirable standards and said until the water is made to the acceptable standards water cannot be supplied,” he said.
The court was told that the E.coli bacteria (found in human excreta) content in the water supplied to the area did not meet the quality standards of water meant for industrial use.
“Similarly, dissolved oxygen levels were not fit enough for fish to survive in the water,” the activist added.
Currently, sewage water from Koramangala and Challaghatta, including water from the Bellandur and Varthur Lakes, are treated at sewage treatment plants installed in Bellandur, before it is released to Kolar. The water is also released to a few tanks in Chintamani taluk of neighboring Chikballapur district.
The project undertaken by the Minor Irrigation Department during the Siddaramaiah regime was flagged by environmentalists and scientists alike at the time of conceptualising. But the state government went ahead with the project without carrying out mandated environmental impact assessment or addressing the concerns.
Stalwarts like TV Ramachandra, a veteran scientist at IISc in Bengaluru, had argued the project, which was meant to save the government from further embarrassment with regards to the burning, frothing lakes of Bengaluru, would come at a greater environmental cost.
Speaking to TNM in March, he had warned that the absence of a tertiary treatment procedure of the sewage would even mean introducing carcinogens in the soil.
“This water will contain phosphorus and nitrates. This will also pollute the surrounding groundwater. If there is a high concentration of nitrates in the water, it can be carcinogenic,” he had then said, adding over all the quality of the water will be as good as raw sewage.