Untreated sewage choking rivers in Polluted Punjab

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On a daily basis, Punjab’s towns and cities generate thousands of gallons of sewage that flows untreated into its rivers and groundwater. Out of 171 cities, only 43 have upgraded sewage treatment plants (STPs), and while 24 of these 53 facilities constructed over the past two years are inactive because of the high running cost, more pollutants from the sensitive industrial zones of Ludhiana and Patiala districts continue to run off into the Ghaggar and Sutlej rivers. Most of these 53 STPs were built in the year leading up to the state elections in 2012. Punjab water supply and sewerage board chief executive officer DK Tiwari said the STPs were nonoperational because the municipal bodies do not have the operating money. Money’s the only hitch and the municipal bodies that are the main sources of revenue that runs these units have put the onus on the local government department.

Shocking figures for Punjab:

  • 75% of Punjab’s sewage flows untreated into its rivers, groundwater
  • 43% of Punjab’s 171 towns have sewage treatment plants (STPs)
  • 24% treatment plants inactive for want of money
  • 71% towns, including three district headquarters, have no assigned source of money to run the STPs.
  • Rs 3crore to Rs 100 crore are the cost of building these plants, depending on the capacity.