Mumbai: 15 years on, BMC's Rs 26K cr sewage treatment plant to see light of day

BMC administrator Dr Iqbal Singh Chahal approved the proposal for the first STP at Dharavi, which has the capacity to treat 418 million litres of sewage daily.

SHEFALI PARAB-PANDITUpdated: Tuesday, May 31, 2022, 12:49 AM IST
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Mumbai: 15 years on, BMC's Rs 26K cr sewage treatment plant to see light of day | Photo: Representative Image

After a long wait of over 15 years and the tender being scrapped several times, the BMC's ambitious Rs 26,000 crore sewage treatment plants (STPs) will now see the light of the day. BMC administrator Dr Iqbal Singh Chahal approved the proposal for the first STP at Dharavi, which has the capacity to treat 418 million litres of sewage daily.

The move came following the Supreme Court directives to the civic body to award tenders to eligible lowest bidders before May 31. Accordingly, the BMC on Friday approved the proposal for the sewage treatment plant in Dharavi. The BMC has proposed the construction and up-gradation of seven STPs at Worli, Bandra, Dharavi, Versova, Malad, Ghatkopar and Bhandup to treat 2464 million litres of sewage daily under the Mumbai Sewage Disposal Project-II (MSDP).

But the project was delayed as the BMC was seeking environmental clearances from the ministry of environment, forest (MoEF), and the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) on setting up new discharge norms for treated sewage into the sea or any water body. Further, the civic body also failed to comply with the CPCB norms, the experts said.

Meanwhile, MSDP-II has seen a massive increase from its initial proposed cost of Rs 5,500 crore in 2009 to the current estimated cost for the up-gradation of STPs and sewerage network to Rs. 26,000 crore.

The BMC scrapped the tender of seven STPs in February, after receiving the high bidding price from the contractors and the Opposition’s allegation of cartelisation. The contractors had quoted more than 30 per cent to 70 per cent above the estimates prepared by the BMC for the work.

Following the directives of the Supreme Court, the civic body approved the proposal for the STP in Dharavi on Friday. The BMC has awarded a contract to construct a plant with the capacity to treat 418 million litres of sewage. The construction period is of five years with a maintenance period of 15 years. The project cost is Rs 4600 crore, which will further escalate after adding taxes. The tender process of other STPs is underway and will soon be completed, said a BMC official. To prevent the discharge of raw sewage in the Mithi river, the BMC is also constructing a tunnel up to the Dharavi STP. This will collect about 168 million litres of sewage and industrial wastewater along the river and will be diverted to Dharavi STP. The move will also help prevent pollution in the river, which has been facing sewage discharge for years.

Additional municipal commissioner P Velarasu, said, “The work of Dharavi STP will start immediately after the monsoon. Preparation for this project will be done during the monsoon.”

Experts say

The project should have been implemented two decades ago. We have challenged at the National Green Tribunal on the discharge of sewage into the creek, so the BMC has to explain what is it doing on the matter. The BMC argues that it cannot lay pipelines due to slum clusters, but if u can make the metro to the most congested area then u can easily lay a pipeline. We hope that the project is not used as any other money-making exercise and delayed further. The CPCB and the MPCB have said that the existing STPs are not performing up to the mark. There should be an independent audit of STPs.

- Stalin D, Director - Vanashakti.

The delay in the project means increasing pollution in the sea. Until the BMC lays sewer lines connecting slums, which discharge sewage directly into the stormwater drains, the problem will continue to persist. The BMC has been cleaning the beaches of the prime location, instead of that the civic body should first clear all the STPs. Otherwise in the future tourists will not be walking on beaches but in the sewer.

- Gopal Jhaveri, co-founder, River March

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