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Friday, August 12, 2022

Express Impact: NGT panel disallows discharge of treated sewage to protected wetland in Gujarat

The committee was formed after The Indian Express reported that a proposed sewage treatment plant of the Kalol municipality in Gandhinagar district had been allowed to discharge treated sewage to the Thol lake, designated a Ramsar wetland site in 2017.

Written by Sohini Ghosh | Ahmedabad |
July 4, 2022 4:02:43 pm
National Green Tribunal (NGT). National Green Tribunal Act, Illegal Factories, Encroachment, Ground's RestorationThe NGT committee began its work on April 28 and completed the consultation process by May 12. (File)

A committee constituted by the National Green Tribunal (NGT) after The Indian Express reported that a proposed sewage treatment plant of the Kalol municipality in Gujarat’s Gandhinagar district had been allowed to discharge treated sewage to the Ramsar-protected Thol lake has disallowed the discharge into the lake and its eco-sensitive zone.

The joint committee was formed in March following an order by the NGT principal bench, which on July 8 will likely take up the report submitted on June 1 by the five-member panel, headed by State Wetland Authority member secretary S J Pandit.

While taking suo motu cognisance of the March 19 news report, the NGT had directed the panel to file a factual and action-taken report and sought to know if “treated sewage can be utilised for secondary purposes, instead of being discharged into the wetland”.

The Indian Express reported that the Gujarat Urban Development Company Limited, a government undertaking, had floated tenders for setting up a sewage treatment plant with a capacity to treat 33.10 million litres per day in the Kalol municipality and parts of the Ahmedabad Urban Development Authority’s jurisdictional areas.

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In a communication of September 2021, Shyamal Tikadar, principal chief conservator of forests (wildlife) and the chief wildlife warden of the state, granted permission for the proposed sewage plant to discharge treated wastewater in the Thol lake, which was designated as a Ramsar wetland site in April 2021.

The NGT committee began its work on April 28 and completed the consultation process by May 12. Following a site visit, consultation with stakeholders, and deliberations on facts and records available and submissions of a subcommittee comprising subdivisional magistrates of Kalol and Kadi and Gandhinagar regional officer of the Gujarat Pollution Control Board, several recommendations were outlined, the most important of which being that the “treated wastewater of the proposed sewage treatment plant of the Kalol Nagarpalika should not be allowed to be discharged directly or indirectly into the Thol lake and its eco-sensitive zone in any case”, according to the report.

It has also been recommended that “the options of providing dedicated irrigation canals bypassing the Thol lake and without affecting the whole bird sanctuary, eco-sensitive zone of the Thol lake and reuse of treated sewage in the nearby industries should be explored”. Furthermore, “a guard pond-cum-distribution pond with an online continuous effluent monitoring system and regular manual monitoring should be provided for treated sewage from the proposed STP (sewage treatment plant), and treated sewage may be utilised based on requirements for irrigation and industrial purposes”.

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Some of the options identified by the joint committee and the subcommittee include utilisation of the treated wastewater in the garden area of the municipality, for use by the Gujarat Industrial Development Corporation-Kalol, which houses 180 industries; utilisation by other industries such as Arvind Limited at Santej and Bharat Vijay Mill at Kalol; and utilisation by the Kalol unit of the Indian Farmers Fertilizer Cooperative Limited, if feasible.

On reutilising the treated wastewater, the NGT committee has also said that the municipality should advertise seeking expressions of interest for the utilisation of treated wastewater from the proposed plant. The panel also suggested that the state pollution control board take into account its recommendations while considering the Kalol sewage treatment plant’s application for consent.

Following the distribution of the treated wastewater to industrial units and for other purposes, the remaining treated wastewater can be drained into a canal of Sujalam Sufalam Circle-1 for irrigation purposes, the panel said, adding that “technical modification in the existing pipeline” may be undertaken to ensure that treated wastewater does not get mixed with drinking water.

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First published on: 04-07-2022 at 04:02:43 pm

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