THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: 20 families in Pattoor in Thiruvananthapuram are sitting on a ‘sewage bomb’ for no fault of theirs. Since June 30, pumping from the sewer connecting 20 houses opposite the Kerala Water Authority’s sewerage maintenance division office at Pattoor has been halted.
A senior KWA official told TNIE that, for close to a month, the sewage from these houses has been draining into the nearby canal that ends up in the Akkulam Lake. The KWA has already pasted demolition notices on the 20 houses saying a sewage leak has been spotted underneath their houses, much to the owners shock.
The leak was noticed on June 30 when the sewer burst underneath a house and the adjoining plot. The area was flooded in no time, and KWA officials managed to identify the leak swiftly with the aid of a metal detector. Thankfully, the incident happened during the day. Or else, it could have led to a tragedy, said an official.
Apart from the 20 houses, three other plots belonging to the Thiruvananthapuram corporation also face the predicament. The sewage from the Pattoor pump house is pumped into the Muttathara Sewerage Treatment Plant which is 5.5 km away. During the sixties, the land at Pattoor belonged to a single owner. Others later bought plots unaware of the sewer passing underneath. A local resident, who sought anonymity, said his parents had bought the property during the early eighties after obtaining the requisite sanctions from the Thiruvananthapuram corporation, revenue department and the KWA. He blamed former KWA officials during the sixties, as he claimed that they had not bothered to keep the layout map of the sewerage line.
“I received three notices from the KWA over the past two weeks, including the demolition notice. I approached the High Court and have obtained a stay order. What surprised me the most was KWA’s claim that my property originally belonged to them as their sewer goes underneath my house! When I asked them to produce documents, they expressed helplessness. I feel strongly that the sewer connecting thousands of houses in the stretch between Pattoor and Muttathara will be affected,” said a peeved resident.
According to the KWA Act, if the sewer passes through a particular plot, it belongs to KWA. But in this case, the KWA has no evidence or document to prove it. The officials have identified the leakage, 3.5 metres deep from road level at its origin and 1.5 metres deep when it reaches the main road. Since the sewer is made of cast iron pipe commissioned in 1965, there are chances of further pipe bursts in the future on the stretch. Such incidents have happened with the drinking water pipelines at Pottakuzhy and Ambalamukku.
“The sewage leak is next to the Pattoor canal towards the petrol pump and halfway through the adjacent V V Road. The sewer, commissioned in 1965 and passing underneath 23 plots, has to be replaced. We are awaiting a decision from the state government on whether the houses have to be demolished or whether a new sewer can be laid through the road,” said a senior KWA official.
An inquiry on where the five MLD (minimal liquid discharge) sewage from the 20 houses is going has revealed shocking information. KWA officials confirmed that, currently, the toilet drainage is flown into the nearby Pattoor canal, and into the Akkulam Lake. Over the past three weeks, the areas near the lake have been a hotbed of the Zika virus. “Some residents have moved High Court against the demolition notice slapped by the KWA,” said a top KWA official.
KWA DESPERATE TO END STALEMATE
Top officials are desperately trying to end the stalemate with its technical member, G Sreekumar, meeting a team of engineers on Thursday evening. The engineers have given an estimate for laying a new sewer through the road. The state government has to sanction the project. As of now, work is expected to be over in two months. If the KWA officials do not expedite the work, the ‘sewage bomb’ will only explode further throwing up a plethora of health concerns.
Since June 30, pumping from the sewer connecting 20 houses opposite the Kerala Water Authority’s sewerage maintenance office at Pattoor has been halted. The KWA has already pasted demolition notices on the 20 houses saying sewage leak has been spotted.