Tribune News Service
Mussoorie, October 18
The 2 MLD sewage treatment plant (STP) at Gyansu in Uttarkashi that was constructed in 2010 is lying non-functional and untreated sewage is still flowing into the Bhagirathi.
The Ganga pollution control unit of the Peyjal Nigam had handed over the possession of the constructed treatment plant to Balaji Water and Power Engineering Private Ltd to be run on the build operate and transfer (BOT) basis.
At present, Mahesh Rawat is the only operator who is doing all the works. However, he has not been paid salary since April 2012. The three other workers at the STP have left due to non-payment of salary. The plant requires at least 10 workers regularly.
The STP needs to function for around 12 hours continuously under a process called oxidizing but as two of its three pumps are damaged, sewage is not being treated. The machine that was installed to create compost has never been used and sewage not treated.
Mahesh says sewage is flowing into the STP continuously but it is being released into the Ganga without treatment.
Residents of the area say the STP is not performing the task for which it was built at a cost of several crores of rupees. Suresh Pal, Executive Engineer of the Peyjal Nigam, says the government has sanctioned Rs 4.84 crore for the repair of the STP and tenders have been invited for running the STP. The tenders will be opened on October 30 after which the process to restart the STP will begin.
However, not all sewage is going into the treatment plant as some ashrams and hotels are still draining dirty water directly into the Ganga.
Ashrams, namely Kali Kamli Dahramshala, Yog Niketan, Kedarnath Ashram, Yog Niketan, along with the Valmiki Basti, and Chankya Puri are draining filth and garbage and dirty water into the Bhagirathi.
However, the owners of ashrams and hotels do not agree that they are causing pollution in the Bhagirathi at Uttarkashi. Ajay Puri, president of the Uttarkashi Hotel Association, says most of the hotels and ashrams have constructed their own soak pits where sewage water is dumped and it does not reach the Ganga. Many hotels are linked to the old sewage system from where pipelines take sewage to the STP for treatment. The older STP was just below the Tambhakhani region on the way to Dharasu but it was damaged in the floods of 2012. A new one has been built at Gyansu but it too needs repair.
Despite such arrangements, the district pollution control unit officials allegedly harass hoteliers and force them to construct their own private sewage treatment plants, which is preposterous. One such plant costs around Rs 5 lakh and the hoteliers have no money to instal one, says Ajay Puri. The hoteliers are still trying to recover from the losses suffered due to the natural disasters that struck the region in the last two or three years, he adds.
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