Smart cities lock horns over sewage treatment
Two smart cities are at war over water contamination, as Pune releases 64,600 million litres of untreated sewage into the drinking water source of Solapur every year.
While the two cities are part of the Centre’s Smart Cities Mission, Solapur citizens want action against Pune for its apathy to treat its sewage. Elected representatives and the citizens of Solapur, about 250km away from Pune, have asked the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) to take care of its sewage.About 30 lakh people in Solapur city and district are dependent on the Ujani dam to provide water for drinking and agriculture. The Mula and Mutha rivers carry sewage from Pune and Pimpri Chinchwad and meet the Bhima river, which moves to the Ujani dam. On the way MIDC, sugar mills and villages dump their waste into the Bhima and by the time the river reaches Ujani, it is reduced to a mere sewage carrier.
Solapur MLA Praniti Shinde said there were serious health implications in Solapur because Pune was not treating its sewage. Solapur city has a limited capacity to treat sewage water. Ramon Magsaysay award winner Rajendra Singh, during his visit to the city last year, had said Solapur people were actually drinking the sewage of Pune and Pimpri Chinchwad.
Civic officials in Solapur have written to the state and the Centre urging them to intervene. “We are into the Smart Cities Mission and trying hard to improve the infrastructure and overall quality of life in Solapur. But Pune, which is also a part of the mission, is not cooperating. We have repeatedly asked the PMC to stop releasing sewage into our water, but has been no response,” said one of the top officials in Solapur, adding that the state government had advised “not to talk” on this matter in public.
The PMC has its own version. Municipal commissioner Kunal Kumar said the city had a plan in place and it was being implemented in phases. According to the plan, the major components include construction of 11 new Sewage Treatment Plants (STPs), which will result in creation of an additional treatment capacity of 396MLD over the existing treatment capacity. Once the project is completed, the total STP capacity in Pune will be 873MLD, which will be sufficient to cater to the sewage generation till the year 2027.