BENGALURU: Tens of millions pumped into improving sanitation infrastructure may have literally gone down the drain. In a shocking revelation, a report by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) on management of storm water in Bengaluru Urban district, which was tabled in the Assembly on Wednesday, noted that more than 54 per cent of the 1,440 MLD (million litres per day) of sewage that is generated, is discharged into water bodies and drains in the state capital.
“In the absence of required quality control methodology for drains, the lakes of Bengaluru are extremely polluted due to sustained flow of untreated sewage and industrial effluents, resulting in lakes frothing and catching fire repeatedly through waste floating on its surface,” the report said.
Rampant mixing of sewage with storm water is posing a threat to public health. Sewage lines were drawn inside drains and large quantity of sewage was illegally let into them. Since water in drains is not treated, the untreated sewage from drains are flowing into water bodies, affecting the quality of ground water. This carries substantial risk of spurt in water-borne disease such as dengue, typhoid, cholera and others,” report said.
The CAG report noted that rapid increase in the frequency of flooding in the city over the last few years, leading to destruction of roads, traffic congestion lasting several hours and extensive damage to public property and health, has highlighted the need for a thorough examination of the design, adaptability of infrastructure for the management of storm water and therefore, a performance audit was conducted.
Verify quality of SWDs in B’luru, govt told
“A robust policy governing storm water management does not exist. Both the State Government and the BBMP have failed to consider urban surface runoff as a water resource despite growing scarcity of water in the state,’’ it noted. Despite being aware that the drains were connected to water bodies and the runoff ultimately gets discharged into rivers, which would be used for human consumption, the BBMP had not taken any action to involve the KSPCB in getting of water samples tested at different stretches, it said.
The CAG has recommended to the State Government to conduct an independent verification of the quality of storm water drains in Bengaluru. Also, the BBMP should accord high priority to prevent discharge of sewage into storm water drains and needs to evict all encroachments on storm water drains, it said.
The report also revealed that many of the STPs were constructed without machinery, defeating the purpose. It also said that BBMP has not removed 714 encroachments on drains out of the 2,626 identified encroachments. The audit noted that 16 major encroachments in Bengaluru were not among the 2,626 encroachment. “This questions the reliability of SWD engineers,’’ it stressed.
Critica l Observations
- As many as 18 lakes (254 acres) were reported dry in Bengaluru which carries significant risk of these lakes being vulnerable to encroachments
- More than 40% of properties under BWSSB failed to adopt mandatory rain water harvesting structures
- Inspections of drains show that they were filled with debris at many places
- Tenders for 110 SWDs works, costing Rs 38.59 crore, were invited and were executed by engineers who were not responsible for SWD works
- Difference over identification of Rajakaluves between BDA and BBMP, leading to confusion over buffer zone. There is no c0ordination among other stakeholders
- The BBMP has taken up 14 desilting works, costing Rs 17.56 crore, during the monsoon in violation of the Indian Road Congress guidelines which stipulates desilting before the onset of monsoon
- Out of 210 lakes under BBMP, 66 lakes are yet to be developed
- Of the 4,200-4,500 tons of of dry and wet waste generated daily during 2018-19 and 2019- 20, 2,900-3,800 tons lifted, remaining waste is dumped in vacant plots and drains or burnt by BBMP
- There is an indication of BBMP’s dependency on government grants for undertaking its activities
The state government resorted to huge market borrowings of Rs 48,499 crore during 2019-20, resulting in 57% increase in cash balance for the current year at Rs 34,464 crore, compared to Rs 22,004 crore in the previous year, the Finance Audit Report said. P4