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Start sewage treatment plant in a week, says HC

The defunct pump house at Khannagar. Picture by Barika Nath Das

Cuttack, April 26: Orissa High Court has set a one-week deadline for making the sewage treatment plant functional to treat domestic waste water before it is discharged into the Kathajodi river.

Yesterday, the court set the deadline, while expressing concern that untreated sewage generated in the city was being discharged into the river despite orders to stop it.

The court had issued the order on November 23 last year while adjudicating PILs related to civic problems in Cuttack. If preventive measures are not immediately adopted, epidemics may spread in the city, the court had warned.

The court expected the Cuttack Municipal Corporation and the Odisha Water Supply and Sewerage Board to pump the domestic effluent to existing plant at Matagajpur for treatment.

But when the matter came up yesterday, it was alleged that the plant was not functioning. The corporation pleaded that the plant could not become operational as sewage flow in the main storm water channel was not reaching its tail end at Matagajpur. The ongoing renovation of the main storm water channel under the JICA sewerage and drainage project is obstructing the flow, it pleaded.

Taking note of it, the division bench of Justice Indrajit Mahanty and Justice S.C. Parija asked advocate general Ashok Mohanty to co-ordinate clearance of the purported obstruction. The bench also asked the advocate general to ensure that the plant at Matagajpur became operational within one week and not a drop of untreated waste water is discharged into the Kathajodi river.

In pursuance of a high court order, a team, headed by Santosh Kumar Panda, regional officer of the state pollution control board in Cuttack, conducted a field study and recommended checking direct discharge of untreated sewage to prevent further contamination of the river.

The pollution control board report said there was a plant at Matagajpur for treatment of domestic effluent before discharge to the Kathajodi river. But, it was not in operation. Consequently, the sewage from Tulasipur to Matagajpur mixed with storm water drains and is finally discharged into the river.

“There is a provision of a pump house at Khannagar to pump the effluent from storm water drain to the plant at Matagajpur, but it is not in operation and the untreated sewage is directly being discharged to Kathajodi,” the report said.

The pollution control board had expressed concern that direct discharge of sewage through storm water drains at several locations was resulting in “deterioration” in the quality of water in the Kathajodi river.

Analysis of water samples had revealed that total coliform bacteria, total suspended solids and biochemical oxygen demand were “beyond prescribed standards”.