Not only has the Sewerage Treatment Plants (STP) situation perplexed apartment dwellers of Bengaluru, but has left them wondering whether we are living in a democratic society at all. Yes, the apartment owners associations all over Bengaluru have been asked to set up STP and dual piping systems with retrospective effect, and reuse the treated water.
STP is not like Rain Water Harvesting or letting a tree grow, but a whole new challenge involving technical challenges, safety and environment issues, cost, space and effort amongst other things.
The question being asked by each and every affected apartment owner is ‘How could BWSSB ask us to install STP & dual piping system with retrospective effect?’ And, why is it always apartments that are targeted? For some reason, the civic agencies seem to target apartment complexes very quickly. Perhaps it is the ease of approach since all they have to do is send one letter to the respective apartment associations and bang, all the one hundred plus apartments are trapped.
Back in March 2016, the resident welfare associations (RWAs) received a letter from BWSSB telling them that they need to install STPs and dual piping system within their complex and reuse the treated water for toilet flushing. Perhaps it was the incredulous nature of this communication that stunned the RWAs, and so went the months till bang, the usual monthly water bill came with an added component of 25 per cent of the water charge. For example, one of the blocks in Brigade Millennium got a bill in October 2016 that suddenly included an additional Rs 27,640 as levy (later confirmed as 25 per cent of water and sanitary charge). And so the RWAs wake up to the cruel reality that it would be 25 per cent for the next three months and then it would be 50 per cent after that.
At this stage, BWSSB was good enough to invite all RWAs for a briefing to explain the situation and dates and places were announced for such briefings.
I attended one such briefing in mid-November at Jayanagar 5th Block, and to my surprise, I realised that the main reason for this demand for STP was not Bellandur lake or sewage flowing into the lakes but was the dire situation in the Cauvery basin. Yes, the engineers of BWSSB explained how the Cauvery basin was only receiving 1/3rd of water inflow compared to less than a decade back. Added to this, the gathering was told that historically, drought used to occur once in every 10 years. However, the last decade has seen a drought three times already, and this is a worry for each and every one of us.
So, to sum up: BWSSB is clueless as to what to do and the simplest job to do is to pass the buck on to the RWAs without understanding either the technical aspects or whether it will help reduce water consumption. Is it sewerage that is a concern or is it water that is a concern is a question that remains still unanswered.
Bangalore Apartments Federation (BAF) which is an entity of RWAs of Bengaluru feels that it is in the interest of all to recognise the criticality of the situation, but feels that BWSSB or the government should clearly state the situation that has prompted them to issue such a dire notice. BAF is genuinely concerned and feels that as citizens we all should pitch in to help the civic agency in addressing this situation but adds that these knee-jerk reactions and draconian measures that are practically not possible, is not the solution.
Author: Prasanna K Vynatheya, is the founder Trustee of Puttenahalli Neighborhood Lake Improvement Trust and also the president of BAF.
Credits Bangalore Mirror