Upgrade STPs or face the music: NGT to Chandigarh MC
The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has directed the municipal corporation to upgrade its sewage treatment plants (STPs) as per latest effluent discharge standards by December 31, 2020, failing which it will levy ₹10 lakh per month per STP till their commissioning.
The matter will now be heard on January 17 next year.
The order comes as a huge setback for the civic body since effluent discharge of four of its five STPs into Ghaggar tributaries has much higher biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) level than the latest permissible level of 10mg/litre (see box).
A low BOD is an indicator of good quality water, while a high BOD indicates polluted water.
Apart from that, none of the STPs in Chandigarh has the requisite machinery to deal with faecal coliform, a major water pollutant after BOD level, the most probable number (MPN) value for which needs to be contained below 230 MPN/100.
Apart from polluting the Ghaggar, higher BOD level is affecting the quality of treated water MC is releasing from these STPs for the irrigation of public and private parks. Due to this, treated water stinks due to which private households use it less.
Against its commitment to NGT, the UT administration will not be able to upgrade the STPs before November 2021.
The construction of another STP in Kishangarh is also not likely to be completed before the end of 2021. It may not be able to adhere to even this deadline due to a dispute between local agencies.
Recently, the Chandigarh Smart City Limited (CSCL) advertised the tender to upgrade all five STPs subject to the condition that MC will bear the operation and maintenance cost after their commissioning, but the MC House, in a meeting earlier this week, resolved not to do so.
The CSCL will now discuss the matter in its next board of directors meeting in December.
A senior official of the Chandigarh Pollution Control Committee (CPCC) that is monitoring the progress of MC’s STP upgrading work told HT that the latest order is an eye opener for UT as they must act swiftly before NGT’s new deadline expires and it starts levying hefty fine.
MC commissioner KK Yadav said, “MC has been making efforts to upgrade the STPs but it will take some time and NGT has been apprised of that. On the basis of the advice from NGT’s executive committee, MC has already engaged a Delhi-based central agency, National Environmental Engineering Research Institute, to improve STP performance through methods like aeration system with which we hope to bring BOD level to some extent.”
“As far as proper upgrading is concerned, it will take at least two years,” he said.