More than a thousand residents of apartment complexes formed a human chain at 30 locations, including in JP Nagar, Koramangala, HSR layout and Old Airport Road, on Saturday, protesting against the order of civic agencies making installation of Sewage Treatment Plants mandatory for old apartment complexes too.
The rally, organised by the Bangalore Apartments Federation (BAF), highlighted several civic issues, including 300% higher water tariff on apartments compared to individual houses. The residents demanded the withdrawal of notices issued by the BWSSB and KSPCB for installation of STPs at all apartments, including those which are connected to the underground sewage. “We wanted to send a message to regulatory agencies that they have to engage with us. We want to tell the government that we are not your adversaries but partners,” said Mr Srikanth Narasimhan, general secretary, BAF.
December 31 is the deadline to install STPs, after which the BWSSB will penalise the apartment complexes which fail to implement the rules. A study conducted by former government engineers on behalf of BAF found that apartment structures could weaken if STPs are installed in the limited space most of the apartment complexes have. Mr Murlidhar Rao, vice-president, BAF, said, “Sewage generated by apartment complexes in the city is less than 3%. What is the logic behind asking installation of STPs only in apartment complexes?”
KSPCB Chairman Lakshman, after meeting BAF members, assured them that on December 30, he will instruct his officers to withdraw the notices served to apartments. Mr Narasimhan said that the notices sent to some apartments have already been withdrawn. “We want impossible regulations like retrospective STP and zero liquid discharge (ZLD) norms for existing STPs to be immediately reversed. We also want water tariff to be the same as for independent houses,” said Mr Vikram Rai, treasurer, BAF.
Rule cannot be relaxed further: BWSSB engineer
In a meeting with representatives from the apartments and other experts, BWSSB chief engineer Kemparamaiah on Saturday expressed helplessness in amending the STP rule further.
After protests from apartment owners, the BWSSB had modified the rules and made sewage treatment plants mandatory only to apartments with 20 residential units and above. In April 2017, the BWSSB relaxed it further, making STPs must only for apartment complexes with over 50 residential units, said a BWSSB engineer.
“During our public consultation, we got to know the practical difficulties, cost constraints, technical problems, financial difficulties etc and increased the cap from 20 to 50 units. But apartment owners want this rule to be further diluted, which isn't possible,” he said.
“December 31 will be the last date for apartment complexes with 50 and above units to install STPs. Failing to do so will attract a fine of 25 percent on water bill for the first three months, 50 percent in the next six months and 100 percent thereafter.”...