With most STPs out of order, Haryana continues to pollute the Yamuna
On paper, Haryana has the capacity to recycle about 80% of the domestic effluents it releases into the Yamuna River. But four years after the NGT first ordered a thorough clean up of the river, the state continues to discharge at least 1140MLD of untreated, or partially treated, sewage per day into the Yamuna. Official numbers also indicate that Gurugram and Faridabad districts are the state’s biggest polluters.
These findings are part of a recent report presented by an NGT-appointed state monitoring committee (MC), which was formed in July last year to oversee the Tribunal’s 2015 judgment in the Manoj Misra case. The initial deadline for the Yamuna revitalisation plan, ordered by the NGT four years ago, was March 21, 2017. However, given the inability of various stakeholders to comply with the judgment, the MC was formed last year for more stringent oversight.
The reasons for Haryana’s poor compliance with the judgment, according to the MC, are defunct or non-compliant sewage treatment plants (STPs) scattered across its 10 districts. Located in the Yamuna’s catchment area, these districts generate about 1118MLD sewage every day, states the report, which was submitted to the NGT on July 2.
Additionally, there are 198 villages in Haryana which directly or indirectly discharge about 40MLD untreated effluents into the Yamuna. Thus, “a total 1140 MLD of domestic effluent is being discharged into the River Yamuna through 11 (natural) drains,” the report notes while making a conservative estimate on the total volume of domestic effluents that eventually make their way into the Yamuna.
Experts pointed out that these drains are all originally meant to channel only rain water. “This in itself is a violation of previous NGT orders which prevents the discharge of sewage into stormwater channels,” Gurugram-based environmentalist Vaishali Rana Chandra said.
ONLY 9 STPS FUNCTIONAL
A total of 79 STPs have been proposed in these districts, with a capacity to treat about 905MLD sewage (about 80% of the total 1118 MLD generated by urban townships). However, the MC observed that only nine of these STPs were functioning effectively over the past four months. About 29 were discharging partly-treated effluents, while 41 were discharging untreated effluents or are yet to be constructed.
“Detailed inspections by the HMC (the MC’s Haryana division) has also brought out the absence of proper maintenance of STPs. Obviously, the bulk of sewage generated is not conveyed to the STPs due to absence of a sewer network or because the STPs are not functioning properly,” the report states.
“As a result, a very small portion of the wastewater generated in Haryana’s Yamuna catchment is actually treated and reused,” said MK Das, head of the MC’s Haryana division, who put down the delay in setting up STPs to ‘operational deficiencies’. Dysfunctional STPs aside, Haryana also needs to finish laying out about 1,600km of sewer lines for the sewage to reach its desired destination. “This task is also not complete, though there is some indication that it will be done by next year,” Das added.
GURUGRAM, FARIDABAD BIGGEST POLLUTERS
Moreover, of the state’s 11 polluting drains, five originate in Gurugram and Faridabad. These two districts together generate about 620MLD of sewage per day—about 55% of the total 1118MLD, thanks to their size and population.
While all the other districts generate less than 100MLD of domestic wastewater, Gurugram generates 410MLD while Faridabad generates 210MLD. Of this, at least 270MLD is discharged into the Yamuna without treatment, while another 240MLD is discharged after partial treatment, the report suggests.
“Gurugram’s waste travels to Delhi via the Najafgarh drain, while Faridabad discharges directly into the river via the Guanchi and Budhiya drains,” Das explained.
Yamuna Nagar and Rohtak districts, which occupy third and fourth places, generate about 190MLD wastewater, of which at least 160MLD is discharged into Yamuna without any treatment. Nuh and Jhajjar districts are at the bottom in this order, generating 12MLD and 38MLD sewage per day, respectively. These two districts presently do not recycle any of their sewage.
Manoj Misra, whose petition in the NGT led to the 2015 judgment ordering the Yamuna’s restoration, and subsequent formation of the MC, said, “Haryana’s attitude toward pollution in the Yamuna has always been to let Delhi take care of the problem, as they are the main polluters, pumping in about 3,000 MLD of domestic and industrial effluents. Haryana’s share is less, but still extremely substantial.”
Gurugram district, especially, gets back the same pollution from the river that it contributes to. After pollutants make their way through Gurugram and into the Najafgarh drain, they flow into the Yamuna’s Agra canal via Okhla in Delhi, Misra explained. “From the Agra canal, a smaller channel called the Gurgaon canal diverges and reenters the district where the water is used mainly for agricultural irrigation,” he said.
Gurugram deputy commissioner Amit Khatri responded, “It is not true to state that Haryana has not taken ownership of its role in this issue. While we are taking note of the NGT’s instructions, we have also proposed augmentation of STPs as a result of our own planning for the future.”
LACK OF COORDINATION
In its report, the MC also came down strongly on the HSPCB for its inability to ensure compliance with the NGT’s directions. “It is a matter of concern that though the Haryana state officers have been meeting the MC frequently and the state Monitoring Committee is quite active, the overall impression is the alacrity with which commitments have been made, they are not matched with commensurate action. The Haryana Pollution Control Board has not asserted itself in terms of its responsibilities,” the report notes.
Moreover, the report observes that the multiplicity of stakeholders responsible for ensuring success of the Yamuna revitalisation plan is, in reality, causing an impediment to its execution. “The responsibility for setting up and maintenance of STPs in Haryana presently lies with multiple agencies, namely, Haryana Shahari Vikas Parishad (HSVP), PHED, Local Bodies Department through the Municipal Corporations, Department of Panchayats and the GMDA in Gurugram. This multiplicity of agencies/department in different cities/towns and rural areas is resulting in poor coordination related to planning and implementation of sewage management in the state. A single agency or a single Supervisory Authority at the state level is needed for overall planning, implementation and monitoring,” the report goes on to say.
RECOMMENDATIONS AND PENALTY
The report also recommends that “the NGT may consider reprimanding officers of HPCB Haryana for their inability to discharge their statutory functions and lack of any regulatory vigil or control over industrial pollution and other activities such as sand mining and building bunds on the river Yamuna...They continue to miss the timelines for activities and deliverables.”
S Narayanan, member secretary, HSPCB, said the they have intensified inspections, enforced installation of online monitoring systems in all medium and large water polluting industries and directed all regional officers to personally visit and submit reports on deficiencies in various STPs, along with recommendations.
“Prosecution action has been initiated against violators (including civic authorities responsible). As per NGT directions, environmental compensation is being imposed on every polluter in keeping with the ‘polluter pays principle’. Fines to the tune of ₹47 lakh have been imposed so far and more fines, amounting to around ₹1 crore, are under process for imposition,” Narayanan said. An action-taken report has also been submitted to the state for further submission to the NGT.
The Tribunal, in its last hearing on July 12, sought a comprehensive sewage disposal plan from the Haryana government for disposal of contaminated sewage into river Yamuna via Najafgarh drain. In this regard, the GMDA has prepared an affidavit for submission during the case’s next date of hearing on August 23.
While officials did not wish to comment on the content of the affidavit, a senior GMDA official, who is in the know of the matter, said that they would be asking for an extension till 2023 to streamline sewage disposal in the district.
In addition to the 1140MLD of domestic wastewater, the report notes that Haryana has 1,268 industrial units generating another 138.75 MLD of effluents per day, which is carried to 10 central effluent treatment plants (ETP). Of these, the MC found that seven were not compliant with the Water Act, “and are discharging only partially treated effluent”.
Another 827 units, despite having standalone ETPs, were found to be discharging 48.319 MLD of treated effluent. According to the report, the total quantum of pollution released toward the Yamuna in is more likely to be around 1,238MLD.