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WILL THE NEW SEWERAGE TREATMENT PLANTS BECOME WHITE ELEPHANTS FOR NMMC?

stp-plants-3The new hi tech Sewerage Treatment Plants of NMMC had gone functional from March onwards but till date NMMC still does not have any concrete plans of generating revenue from the recycled water. The justification of spending over Rs. 200 Crores on the project was that it would be eco-friendly and will generate revenue but with little planning done for connectivity of the STPs and transportation of potable water, will the new hi tech STP plants become white elephants for NMMC? We try to explore the answers with our weekend exclusive. When the new hi tech STP plants of NMMC were floated, the NMMC administration and the ruling front were sure that the plants would generate revenue for NMMC to the tune of Crores annually. Even today they echo the same confidence. Since March this year, NMMC has been claiming that the recycled sewerage water from the new STP plants will be potable enough for drinking but due to psychological reasons NMMC says that the water will be utilized for industrial, gardening and other purposes. The corporation had boasted the same to Urban Development Minister for State Rajesh Tope during his visit who too was all praises about the new STP plants of NMMC. However what the Minister did not bother to find out before making an opinion about the plant was whether the very purpose of spending Rs. 200 Crores on recycling water was being served or not. And the truth is that it is not. For even today NMMC is leaving the recycled water into the sea – the reason for this being that the NMMC had not prepared a plan on how water will be sold after it is recycled. For selling water NMMC will have to again lay water pipelines that connect each new STP plants. This would mean spending another upto Rs. 400 Crores – something that the NMMC Commissioner Vijay Nahata too accepts. Call it the shortcomings of the feasibility report but this aspect was not studied during the making of the new STP plants and as a result NMMC is now dependent on inviting bidders who will buy the water and make their own provision of collecting water from the STP plants – the only option left to make revenue generation successful. Now the NMMC is claiming that they have received bids and deal to sell water will be clinched soon. Ask NMMC how soon is soon and once again you get contradictory replies from NMMC Commissioner, NMMC Standing Committee Chairman and the contractor. Besides, these factors project is grossly ill-studied. Says British Safety Council approved Safety Engineer and Adv High Court A. V. Sivsankaran that these projects are viable in resources and energy rich countries that are not blessed with natural rainfall but in monsoon countries like India, money should be spent on projects like rain-harvesting. He goes on to give even more shocking insight stating that the recycled water from the STPs cannot be used for even gardening purpose because there are chances that organic sediments from domestic waste will be left in flowers, vegetables and fruits. And besides this the maintenance cost of the plants including power supply is very high. When we asked the contractor that regular power cuts could be a hindrance where extra generators would be required adding to maintenance cost, the contractor said this is something they did not know during the making. Ask him that the shortcomings of the feasibility report could well make the STP plants white elephants for NMMC and the example the contractor gives shows the short sightedness of NMMC in the project. While the contractor definitely does not seem to be serious on such a grave matter, A V Sinsankaran says that the municipal corporation is responsible for not making use of natural resources. With ambitious projects that have cost huge investments from the tax payer’s money not able to yield expected results on time just like the much hyped STP plants would force NMMC to become debt ridden civic corporation seeking loans at every step to make two ends meet. Looks like, no matter how desperately NMMC tries, the new STP will become white elephants for NMMC in the long run.

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