Failed water samples, rising pollution, PPCB had enough reason to drag MC to court

Biannual report of water samples collected from Jamalpur STP outlet reveal that contaminants in the water are beyond the permissible limits set by Ministry of Environment Forest and Climate Change
A sewage treatment plant at Jamalpur in Ludhiana.(HT PHOTO)
A sewage treatment plant at Jamalpur in Ludhiana.(HT PHOTO)
Updated on Aug 09, 2019 11:31 PM IST
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By Harvinder Kaur, Ludhiana

Even as the blame game between the Ludhiana municipal corporation (MC) and Punjab pollution control board (PPCB) over Buddha Nullah pollution as a result of non-functional sewage treatment plants (STPs) continues, the biannual report of the water samples collected from the Jamalpur STP outlet reveal that contaminants in the water are beyond the permissible limits set by the Ministry of Environment Forest and Climate Change (MoEF).

The PPCB is involved in a legal battle with the MC for its (MC’s) failure in upgrading dysfunctional STPs due to which the pollution levels in Buddha Nullah have increased by alarming levels. This they say is due to the direct discharge of untreated wastewater into water bodies.

The PPCB has filed a criminal complaint in the court against the MC for the non-functional Jamalpur STP and for operating Balloke STP without taking consent under Water (Prevention & Control Pollution) Act, 1974. Out of nine parties against whom the complaint was filed, including the MC commissioner and the mayor, seven were granted bail by a local court on Thursday.

Figures speak for themselves

For instance, the figures pertaining to the Biochemical Oxygen Demand (BOD) milligram per litre from January to June this year, on an average, is 120 milligrams per litre (mg/l) against the standard permissible limit of 30 mg/l. Similarly, total suspended solids (TSS) test that pertains to the dry weight suspended solids that are not dissolved and also cause turbidity in water bodies, divulged a negative report. The average TSS constituent in Jamalpur STP outlet from January to June was 986.7 mg/l which is abnormally high as compared to the standard permissible limit of 100 mg/l.

As per the figures with the PPCB, a TSS of 269 milligram per litre recorded in April end has been the highest so far this year.

In addition to this, the faecal coliform MPN/100 (most probable number)/100 millilitre test for measuring potential bacteria found in human and animal faeces is also not within the permissible limits. The faecal coliform MPN/100 of the sample taken in May was 1,70,000/100ml against the standard limit of 1,000/100 ml.

pH level found to be ok

The only specification that the Jamalpur STP’s outlet water has cleared until June has been of pH test which indicates acidic or alkaline nature of the water.

The data reveals that the pH of all the samples taken ranged between 7.2 to 7.57 which are on the lines of the MoEF permissible limits that has set the standard pH level of the treated water between 6.5 to 9.0.

The Ludhiana MC had found in December last year that over 760 MLD (million litres per day) waste is being dumped in the Buddha Nullah, while the three STPs functional in the city in Jamalpur, Balloke and Bhattian area have a capacity of 466 MLD. The individual capacity of Jamalpur STP is 48 MLD.

Role of STP

The sewage treatment plant is used for removing contaminants from municipal wastewater largely containing household sewage, industrial wastewater. The STP is used for removing contaminants from the wastewater adopting various physical, chemical and biological processes and making it safe enough to be released into the environment.

PPCB, MC pass the buck

While pollution levels in water bodies, including Buddha Nullah continue to rise, both the PPCB and MC continue to pass the buck on each other. While PPCB XEN Paramjit Singh said the MC had failed to improve the sewage treatment plant’s (STP) mechanism even after repeated notices that made them take legal action, the civic body is targeting the PPCB for failure in checking untreated waste being discharged in the sewer lines. “Through various reminders, we have intimated them about the ministry’s guidelines as per which, the STP should be operated. All the recent water samples that were taken from Jamalpur STP have failed the test,” said XEN Paramjeet Singh.

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