Hyderabad: Sanitation and hygiene have gained significance amid the Covid-19 pandemic. However, in Hyderabad city, which has been witnessing a spike in the positive cases every day, many sewage treatment plants are not even functioning due to poor maintenance practices. There are thousands of commercial establishments, associations of gated communities and apartment blocks in the city that cannot be connected to the underground drainage system. The sewage waste from these areas is becoming a growing threat to Hyderabad, including its water bodies, says experts. .

In accordance with the building by-laws of the Government of Telangana, commercial establishments, gated communities and apartment blocks above a certain area are not connected to the underground drainage system but have package sewage treatment facilities to treat wastewater. The Telangana State Pollution Control Board in accordance with rules of the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Government of India, has stipulated discharge norms for treating the water to safeguard the environment and public health. Suitable disinfection process was also prescribed to eliminate pathogens.

“Particularly in new growth areas such as Hitech city and Alwal there are thousands of buildings that do not have a direct connectivity to underground drainage systems. Though package STPs, including the disinfection systems, are installed in a majority of buildings, the residents associations are not moving ahead with the operation and maintenance process because of the commercial tariff. STPs consume high units of electricity and it will be considered under the commercial tariff. For this, associations will have to collect an extra Rs 1,000 or Rs 2,000,” told a highly placed source from the Telangana government to NewsMeter.

However, the officer said there are no better options for these households than STP. “Currently, these buildings are directly discharging sewage waste into any available outlet without treatment or disinfection. These sewage waste finally joins any of our water bodies. At the time of a pandemic like Covid-19, we cannot take a chance to neglect these careless attitudes,” he added.

In view of the continuous demand from different health specialists and environmentalists, the GHMC and HMWSSB has decided to take suitable action against commercial establishments, associations of gated communities/apartment complexes that violate the operational norms of onsite Sewage Treatment Plant including the disinfection system. GHMC has also said penalties will be imposed on such violators. “In case, the STP doesn’t have a disinfection system, the same shall be provided immediately,” said GHMC sources.

Experts have also suggested the following guidelines to associations and builders with regard to operating STPs

• STPs shall be strictly operated as per the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs)

• Trained personnel/firm shall be deployed for effective operation and maintenance

• Facilities like recycling waste water for gardening or for flushing shall ensure tertiary treatment using ultra-filtration and disinfection through chlorination.

• All personnel at the plant should use prescribed personal protective equipment (PPE)

• Sludge generated on a regular basis should be handled, transported and treated in a feacal sludge treatment plant /co-treatment plant notified by the municipal corporation/government. The sludge shall be transported by a licensed desludging operator.

Dheeshma Puzhakkal

Dheeshma Puzhakkal is currently a Reporter with Newsmeter. An alumnus of Hyderabad Central University, she has interned with Greater Kashmir newspaper and NDTV. Dheeshma has also made short films and documentaries. Her documentary �Still I Rise�, which is based on sex-trafficking in Hyderabad�s Old City, has earned accolades in several film festivals, such as International Documentary and Short Film Festival, Kerala (IDSFFK). An avid foodie, she loves to travel and listen to stories that others tell. Photography is one of her all-time interests. She has extensively written on satellite-based journalism, health, consumer, and data stories besides covering anti-crime investigative agencies.

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