The Kotkapura town needs to replace its broken-down 1977-built sewerage.
The city's expanding and including more people in 35 years has multiplied the amount of sewage and put pressure on the old system.
The people of poor Dhanna Basti have no sewerage at all. When it rains, their sewage collects on the streets, and even when its dry, the muck of the low-lying area doesn't drain into the roadside gullies. When the problem grows, the municipal committee deploys motor-driven pumps to channel this water into the main sewer.
The sewage also runs into unoccupied plots and low-lying houses. Its stagnation leads to stink and illness. "I live in Chopra Bagh (RamNagar) locality for the past 15 years," said a man from Kotkapura. "The gutters keep overflowing, for the entire area is low-lying."
Sewerage is clogged on the each of the 15 streets of Chopra Bagh. In some lanes, people have raised the level of road with own investment. At Dhillon Colony along the Bathinda road, rainwater takes a day to clear the streets. "Every time, the MC pumps out the sewage," said Surinder, a man from Gobindpuri locality of the town. "Hell lives here."
Natural flow tampered with
The entire sewage of the Jaitu road localties collects into a pond in monsoon and, later, spills into homes. "The city's sewerage was ill designed 35 years ago," said Rajinder Jassal of Kotkapura. "Influential people changed the course of wastewater to run against the natural slope from east to west."
Because of tampering with the drains, sewage collects at the northeast point that is higher than many other areas, and is pumped out into a small, 5-kilometre pucca drain that joins a bigger channel at Devi Wala village. A 70-horsepower motor runs all day to pump out this sewage.
No revenue for improvement
Having lost its main source of income, the octroi tax, since the shifting of oil depots to Bathinda, and electing opposition legislators for the past two terms, Kotkapura doesn't have the revenue and allocation to upgrade its sewers.
MC has a plan
"I have a Rs-42-crore proposal to lay sewers in areas where these don't exist," said MC president Parmjeet Kaur Dhillon. "We'll divide the city in two, and lay the sewers of the western, low-lying along the natural slope. The plan includes two sewage treatment plants, the small one at the disposal point and the big one at the west end."