BENGALURU: Faced with several reports of sewage treatment plants (STPs) not being functional or facing technical issues, the city's taxpayers are now demanding that live data on the functioning of these STP's be shared publicly, so as to enable a public audit of the facilities.
Along the lines of the data shared by the pollution control boards on air quality, activists are asking that the Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB) also start sharing the data on its website.
Activists have asked for information such as the amount of water treated on a daily basis, the release of water from the storm water drains (SWDs), the amount of money put into it, what is done with the sludge, quality of incoming water, who the operator is, and so on.
"These should be put up online where the public can see," said Sharad Lele, an environment activist.
Currently, the BWSSB website has mostly static and often generic information about STPs. Activists have been requesting the agency to be more transparent since it is public funding that goes into the work. Shubha Ramachandran, water sustainability consultant at environmental solutions company Biome, says, "On a regular basis, nobody knows what is working and what is not. Some citizen audit will be good so that there is external communication."
However, the BWSSB says that the data can be accessed by submitting a request. A process, which according to those who tried, is a long and cumbersome one.
Nithyanand Kumar, chief engineer-in-charge of STPs, says that executive engineers can provide information when asked. However, Shubha explained that they have to approach the BWSSB public relations officer and fill up forms, which is a long process.
The data, which is being asked for, is already partly available with the BWSSB, according to Tushar Girinath, chairman, who says that they have started an online monitoring system for the new STPs, and are yet to provide the same for the old ones.
“We receive updated information every 15 minutes, but the public can approach us by sending a letter to the chief engineer-in-charge of wastewater management, stating their purpose of visit, what time they would like to visit the STP, and so on,” he says.
When asked about the online that was requested by the activists, he says that the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB) might look into it.
“If KSPCB wants to release information, we have no objection,” Girinath adds.
KSPCB chairman Lakshman was unavailable for comment.