BENGALURU: A sizeable number of apartment owners in the city, opposing a 2016 rule that requires apartment complexes with more than 20 housing units to have their own sewage treatment plant, have approached the judiciary for relief.
As many as 212 apartment associations, constituting the Federation for Apartment Associations, have filed a PIL last week. The chief grouse of the residents seems to be that the January 19, 2016 Government Order (issued by the Department of Forests, Ecology and Environment) does not take into consideration how existing apartments can comply with the rule.
Apparently, around July 2016, the BWSSB started sending notices to existing apartments asking them to set up STPs within three months. The association is asking for rule withdrawal and refund of penalty collected for its non-compliance. Their opposition is not for the idea of water reuse or STPs.
Apeksha Parthasarathy, a resident of an over 20-year-old apartment complex in Cambridge Layout, in fact, supports water conservation and responsible waste management. Her neighbours are, however, against some aspects of the rule.
The setting up of a dual piping system to reuse the treated water in toilets, they say, is a long drawn, messy and expensive process. They are worried about the things that could go wrong: the new pipes, if laid externally, may stink and attract insects; treated water collected in the commode may grow maggots; if treated water gets mixed with fresh water, it will be a health risk. “It requires heavy investment, there is no intelligence-support on how to go about it and things will most likely go wrong,“ Parthasarathy said. She is going by the testimonials from residents of apartments that have such systems. Her apprehensions are shared by many.
At Design Dialogues, an event on bathroom design conducted in the city on Tuesday, prominent architects expressed their doubts about the safety of STPs managed by illequipped resident associations and builders. Shivakumar, a lawyer who lives in an apartment complex in Yelahanka, turned the opposition into a public interest litigation before the High Court. He accuses the BWSSB of having double standards. “The master plan for 2015 mentioned that 30 STPs will be set up in the city. It wasn’t implemented and even the 12 that exist are not all functional. Let’s fix those first,“ he said, pitching for centralised STPs managed by government authorities.
Environmentalists may not support this notion. As one expert pointed out, while many buildings now have their own bore wells and are off the BWSSB grid, when it comes to managing waste water, they say it is the government’s responsibility. “We should all take care of the problems we create,“ green-building expert Chandrashekar Hariharan said.
Credits ET Realty