Kalwa residents raise a stink over sewage treatment plant

TMC’s plan to build a sewage plant in the middle of a residential area has enraged locals, who fear it will affect their health; civic body denies health hazard

The Thane Municipal Corporation’s (TMC) ambitious plan to build a sewage treatment plant (STP) in the middle of a residential area in Kalwa has not found favour with the locals. Several residents from adjoining buildings are opposing the STP being built next to their homes. They have also complained to the municipal commissioner, asking him to shift the plant, since it may turn into a health hazard in the future.

Residents point to the proposed area for the plant
Residents point to the proposed area for the plant

On the other hand, the TMC, which has started building the plant, has assured that it will not result in any health issues. More than a hundred such sewage plants have been planned in Thane city, keeping in mind the treatment of excess sewage gathered throughout the city. Authorities say they are doing this for the good of the citizens.

The TMC has already started constructing the sewage treatment plant
The TMC has already started constructing the sewage treatment plant

Will affect health
Dr VK Anil, an orthopaedic physician, who resides at Amrut Aangan building with his gynaecologist wife, claims that the plan of building the STP came into existence just a month ago. It was not proposed earlier, as the developer told them that a shopping mall and parking lot would be built at the place.

“Even if the authorities are planning to build it with advanced technology, at the end of the day, it will lead to air pollution in the area. Residential areas surround the plant on all sides. The chemicals released from the plant will lead to health problems and treating them will be difficult,” said Anil, who has asked the authorities to shift the plant.

Anil added that the residential complex includes people of the working class, who don’t have time for any protests. “Along with a retired judge, retired navy officers and few other government officials, we recently met Sanjeev Jaiswal, commissioner of TMC. We told him about the problem, but he ignored us saying that he does not want to speak on the issue,” added Anil.

Playing with lives
Chandrakant Joshi, Assistant Commissioner of Police, Bhiwandi Division and a resident of Amrut Aangan, has opposed the plant as well. He said, “By coming up with the sewage plant, authorities are playing with the lives of around 15,000 residents who live near the proposed site of the plant in 30 different housing complexes. Also, at a distance of 100 metres, there is an underground water tank with a capacity of 42 lakh litres which supplies water to places like Thane, Kalwa, Digha, Mumbra, Kausa, Diva and others. Will the plant affect the water from the tank, since it is an underground project?”

Joshi added that the work on the plant has already begun on an open space beside Amrut Aangan. This is leading to spillage of contaminated water, which might affect the kids who play there, he says. It is also endangering the lives of residents, since mosquitoes have started breeding there as well.

The residents have complained to the municipal commissioner, the mayor and other politicians and authorities. But no action has been taken yet and their opposition for the project has fallen on deaf ears. “We oppose the plant and will protest if it is not shifted to another place. Instead of utilising an open space near the residential complex, the authorities can construct the plant at Mumbra creek, which is rife with illegal constructions,” added Kiran Shah, another resident.

Officials say
When mid-day spoke to Bharat Bhivapurkar, executive engineer for the sewage treatment plant, he said that the work for the plant started a month ago and the authorities have sanctioned R32 crore. He said, “The plant will treat 46 MLD (million litres per day) sewage and will take a year to get completed. It will recycle drainage water and waste of 5 lakh nearby residents. We are doing this after taking into account the concerns of citizens. It will not affect their health.

He added, “In Kopri, there is a 110 MLD STP, which has been active for the last 40 years, and it hasn’t affected the residents at any point of time. More than 100 such plants are coming up in Thane including at Ghodbunder road and other areas, where the sewage is gathered in huge quantities,” said Bhivapurkar, who says the project is part of Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission. (JNNURM) mid-day tried contacting TMC commissioner Sanjeev Jaiswal, but his phone was not reachable.

TMC says
Sandeep Malvi, Public Relation Officer, TMC said, “We are planning it in such a way that it does not affect the health of the citizens. Also, it will be made in a systematic and scientific way. Seeing the population of the vicinity, we are planning the plant accordingly to solve the drainage problems affecting the city.”

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