The Punjab government is coming up with 63 new sewage treatment plants (STPs) across the state with the capacity of treating waste water up to 568 million litres per day (MLD). Out of these, 34 plants having a capacity of 490 MLD are under construction, 24 with 52 MLD capacity are at the tendering stage, and five with 26 MLD capacity are in the ‘detailed project report’ (DPR) stage.

Among the STPs, 29 are to be completed by March 31 next year, 27 by December 31 next year, and seven STPs are facing issues of land, so no timeline has been fixed for them. Also, eight old STPs are being upgraded with a total capacity of 538 MLD, for which March 31 next year is the deadline.

The Punjab government on Tuesday shared these details with the National Green Tribunal (NGT) in a report which also mentioned that environment plans of seven of the state’s total 23 districts had been updated and the remaining would be updated by September 30.

There are a total of 101 functional STPs with 1,368 MLD capacity in Punjab. Waste water treated by 57 of these plants, which have a capacity of 305 MLD, is being reused over an area of 8,326 hectares. Work is under execution six projects and these are to be commissioned by December 31. Also, 90 kilo litres per day ( KLD) of treated waste water is used for sprinkling on an 85-km stretch of road to control emissions.

There are also six functional common effluent treatment plants (CETPs) with a capacity of 110 MLD in the state – four in Ludhiana, one in Jalandhar and one in Phillaur. One CETP of 0.15 MLD at Jalandhar is in the pipeline, but its construction has been stayed by the Punjab and Haryana high court. Another CETP of 5 MLD is being upgraded at Jalandhar. There are also 509 effluent treatment plants(ETPs) in the state which are being monitored on a monthly basis.

Groundwater extraction, contamination

Approximately 83% area of Punjab is under agriculture and about 14 lakh tubewells are extracting the groundwater, which is the main cause of declining water table. The groundwater quality in most parts of southern and south western districts is saline.

The NGT was informed that water samples from Patiala and Fatehgarh Sahib districts contained fluoride. Arsenic was found in Taran Taran, Amritsar and Gurdaspur districts. To address the groundwater contamination problem, the state is introducing community-based water purification plants as a short-term measure and switching over to canal water supply as a long-term measure. Punjab Water Resources Management and Development Corporation has signed an MoU with Israel’s national water company Mekorot for finalising water conservation and management master plan for Punjab to deal with the problems of falling water table, increasing surface water pollution and water logging in south-west Punjab. Also, rooftop rainwater harvesting has been made mandatory in all buildings in an area bigger than 200 square yards.

Source: July 28, 2022, The Times of India