A river breathes again


The state is overhauling its sewerage network system so that the wastewater its cities send out to the Ganga is rid of all the impurities.

Stream of consciousness: Beur STP in-charge Kumar Saurabh

Every day, Kumar Saurabh reaches his office, the sewage treatment plant (STP) at Beur in Patna at 9 am, and begins his day by touring the 2.17 acre area. The first stop for the 33-year-old operation and maintenance incharge at this Voltas-operated facility is the primary screening zone where the incoming wastewater reaches first.

“It’s a bit of an old habit,” says Saurabh, who has an M.Tech degree in environmental engineering. “I am not required to be there to initiate the process. Cleaning the wastewater is automatic and constant. The pump starts the moment of waste water in the primary tank reaches five metres.” Of the 2,525 kilometre stretch of the river, 445 km flows through Bihar. Hence the state’s importance for the Namami Gange Programme (NGP). And sewage discharge remains the biggest issue for the river here. Patna alone generates 250 million litres per day (MLD) of wastewater. It is no surprise, then, that 92 per cent or Rs 5,487.75 crore of the Rs 6,017.37 crore of the Namami
Gange funding for the state is for sewerage infrastructure projects.

Urban development body BUIDCO (Bihar Urban Infrastructure Development Corporation), headed by Raman Kumar, an IAS officer of the 2009 batch, is handling the 30 sewage treatment and drainage projects. Three of the 15 ready sewage treatment plants (STPs) are already operational, nine others are at various stages of completion while three others that are to be set up at Munger, Buxar and Hajipur are going through the tender process. BUIDCO has also been assigned 15 interceptions and diversion projects, of which 12 are under construction and three in the middle of a tender process.

Patna has a maximum of 11 STP and drainage projects; the currently approved projects together will facilitate the treatment of 651.5 MLD of sewage across the state. While two of these projects have been completed, 22 are under progress and six under implementation.

Tata Group company Voltas was awarded two projects worth Rs 150 crore, Karmalichak, with the capacity to treat 37 MLD, and Beur (43 MLD) in Patna. The Beur STP has been operational since September 2020.

Says Bihar Pollution Control Board chairman Dr Ashok Ghosh, “The Ganga in Bihar has just 5 per cent of the ‘gangajal’ it originates within the Himalayas.” Namami Gange hopes to change that.

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