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October 28, 2012

HC: Civic Agencies Told to Ensure Untreated Sewage Is Not Dumped Into Lakes

HC relief for Delhi's water bodies: Civic Agencies Told to Ensure Untreated Sewage Is Not Dumped Into Lakes

NEW DELHI: A recent Delhi high court order has spelt major relief for hundreds of water bodies in the capital that are being fed with untreated sewage. The court has directed Delhi Jal Board and Delhi Pollution Control Committee to ensure that unless sewage is treated to levels prescribed by the Central Pollution Control Board, it cannot be discharged into lakes, ponds or other water bodies.

Even as several lakes are fed by treated or untreated sewage — including Hauz Khas lake, Bhalswa lake and Sanjay jheel — DJB officials claimed that "to avoid pollution of ground water and harm to plants, animals and aqua life, it is not advisable to recharge ground water or water bodies with treated sewage because of the standards maintained of (at) the sewage treatment plants (STPs)".

"Biochemical Oxygen Demand or BoD levels in treated sewage should not be more than 30mg/lt. This is the level maintained at all STPs and most of them are treating this level too. However, against a demand of 680 million gallons per day, Delhi has sewage treatment capacity of 513.4 million gallons per day. It is treating even less as all sewage does not reach the STPs. A lot of this feeds small lakes and ponds. DJB's logic is that in flowing water systems like rivers, natural processes lead to an improvement of water quality. These systems are missing in still water systems," said a source.

The order, issued by Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw, has directed DPCC to monitor from time to time all STPs to ensure their proper functioning, and that any deficiency should be reported to DJB immediately.

DJB has also been directed to act immediately if DPCC complains about the working of any STP.

Both DPCC and DJB have been asked to ensure that treated sewage from STPs "is not discharged into water bodies like lakes, ponds etc, unless the same is compliant with prescribed standards".

The water quality in Hauz Khas has recently shown an improvement after DDA put up a check dam in Sanjay Van at the point where untreated sewage was getting mixed with Vasant Kunj's treated effluent and was entering the lake. However, the measure is only temporary and the lake could be at risk if the procedure is discontinued.

Bhalswa and Sanjay lakes are other examples of water bodies where untreated sewage finds its way into. While some may dry up if untreated sewage is stopped from flowing into them, sources say that sewage needs to be treated and not stopped from entering water bodies.

Source: Times of India (28 Oct 2012, Pg 6)

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