30 drains pouring effluents into Kondli drain polluting Yamuna, no action plan yet

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Published on Nov 12, 2019 08:26 PM IST
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ByKushagra Dixit

Noida: One of the major sources of pollution of river Yamuna in Delhi-NCR, Kondli drain continues to sully the river owing to unabated discharge of effluents from 30 untreated stormwater drains in Noida.

These drains are yet to be tapped, channelised and treated, officials said. The state of affairs is quite clear from the admission of the Noida authority officials that they are yet to quantify the untreated sewage that reaches Noida drains and, eventually, the Yamuna.

According to the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), the monitoring agency, the estimated sewage generation in Noida is 216 million litres a day (MLD), of which only 152 MLD is being treated.The remaining 64 MLD of untreated effluent flows through the Kondli drain into the Yamuna. Besides these 30 drains, a number of smaller drains also continue to flow into the Yamuna, carrying sludge.

The 40-year-old 20km long Kondli drain originates from Kondli village in Delhi and enters Noida (via Ghaziabad) near the Hari Darshan police post in Sector11, and after travelling for about 17km through Noida’s sectors 11, 12, 22, 50 and 168, it empties into the Yamuna near Chak Mangrola, in Sector 168.

The drain width varies from a minimum of two metres, at the point where it enters Noida, to a maximum of 12 metres in Barola, Sector 50.

The problems created by the polluting Kondli drain is being heard by the National Green Tribunal (NGT) since 2017, and the matter is now listed for January 2020, after the last hearing on November 4 was cancelled owing to the lawyer’s strike. The petition on groundwater pollution and effluent discharge in Yamuna through the Kondli drain was filed by Abhisht Kusum Gupta, a resident of Sector 137, Noida.

Noida authority uncooperative

According to the final report drafted by the CPCB on November 1, the Noida authority, despite repeated reminders, is yet to submit a timebound action plan to stop discharge of untreated water into 30 stormwater drains in its jurisdiction. The Noida authority is also yet to quantify the volume of discharge, intercept the drains and ascertain the exact number of sources of effluents as well as the number of high-rises and industries with defunct treatment plants. It has also not submitted the interim environment compensation of 1 crore as ordered by the CPCB in July.

“Action plan in compliance to the direction issued not submitted till date. Environment compensation was not submitted till date,” the CPCB report says.

“We have not received any information from the Noida authority on the 30 drains and what is going to be done about them. Yes, the BOD (biological oxygen demand) is reducing but that is happening naturally due to the long flow of the drain and not because the water is being treated. The effluents settle into the sludge and make it to the river anyway. Also, the Kondli drain is a stormwater drain which is not meant to discharge sewage, or at least unless the sewage is treated,” an official from the CPCB, requesting anonymity, said.

Apart from Noida authority, other agencies responsible to control the pollution in Kondli drain include Delhi Jal Board (DJB), East Delhi Municipal Corporation (EDMC) and Palika Parishad, Khoda Makanpur.

Disastrous situation

“The situation is disastrous and the Noida/Kondli drain continues to be one of the major polluters of Yamuna, apart from other major drains of Delhi such as Barapullah and Najafgarh drains,” professor CR Babu, emeritus professor, Delhi University, said. He is providing assistance to the CPCB for the treatment of the drain.

The solution, as suggested by prof Babu, is creating ‘construction wetlands’ on some patches parallel to the drain for natural treatment of sewage.

“The best solution is to use alternative technology like constructed wetlands, which has been used in the past successfully. Wetlands are built parallel to the drain and the sewage is passed through it to naturally clean itself. We are identifying sites in Noida to make about five such wetlands,” prof Babu said.

STPs of high-rises

According to the Noida authority, most of the untapped 30 drains originate from high-rises, industries and villages where the sewage treatment plants (STPs) are not functioning properly.

“The issues are with multi-storeyed residential societies as it’s their responsibility to ensure that untreated water doesn’t enter the main Noida drain. In some high-rises, the STPs are not working at all. We are yet to quantify as to how much of untreated sewage is going into the Noida drain and thereby, into the Yamuna,” BM Pokhriyal, deputy general manager (water), Noida authority, said.

Officials said teams have been constituted to inspect high-rises.

“We have already controlled the situation up to a large extent. There are a number of complaints that we continue to receive about untreated sewage discharge into drains. We have formed teams but due to the recent air pollution situation, most of the workforce was engaged in ensuring preventive measures were implemented. Soon, we will ensure that all STPs are working properly,” Avinash Tripathi, officer on special duty (OSD), health, Noida authority, said.

Two-year battle to clean Kondli drain

Dissatisfied with the work done so far, the NGT petitioner had questioned how the Noida authority could give clearance to high-rises without estimation of waste water generation and ensuring that STPs can handle those volumes.

“It has been years and wherever this drain flows, that region stinks. The Noida authority has not done anything to clean the 30 drains. They claim to be the richest industrial authority, yet they fail to provide proper sewage and sanitation. Even 5,000 years ago, Harappans had a complex sewer system, then why can’t the Noida authority despite all their resources, have it now? The Kondli drain continues to stink the city and pollute the Yamuna,” Abhisht Kusum Gupta, the appellant, said.

Pollutants higher than standards

According to CPCB observations, the BOD concentration where the drain enters Noida is 219 mg/l whereas faecal coliform count is 20X10^5MPN/100ml. Where it empties into the river, the concentration of BOD is 46mg/l and the faecal coliform count is 78X10^5MPN/100ml. This is still dangerous and beyond the permitted standards.

“The results indicate that while there is a marginal improvement in water quality as the drain travels through Noida but still concentration of BOD and faecal coliform at the confluence point of the drain with the Yamuna is quite high,” the CPCB said.

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