Municipal commissioner fined over pollution

By Deepa Kozhisseri
Published: Thursday 15 May 2008

the Sirsi district court in Karnataka has sentenced A H Gurumurthya, former municipal commissioner, to 18 months of imprisonment for releasing untreated sewage into two tanks in 2001-02. The court has also slapped a fine of Rs 5,000 on him. The municipality, the order said, is bound to look after the health and sanitary conditions by providing proper sewage treatment and disposal.

For six years, the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (kspcb) was involved in a legal wrangle with Sirsi's civic body for discharging sewage into the Bhoodi Honda and the Kotekere tanks. "Local bodies do not follow rules. About 75 per cent of water pollution is due to lack of sewage treatment and many places don't even have an underground sewer network,'' said H C Sharatchandra, chairperson, kspcb.

kspcb's other contention is that civic authorities were discharging the sewage without obtaining its consent under the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974. The act states that, "no person shall without the previous consent of the board discharge the sewage to stream or well". When the board gives the consent, it sets norms and standards on the kind of treatment and discharge. Also, to get the permit, municipalities need to plan for underground drainage, treatment of sewage and a disposal plan.

C D Kumar , environmental officer of kspcb, told Down To Earth that the board had taken up 39 cases against various municipal committees in the state, including a case against the Bangalore Waste and Sewage Supply Board for not meeting sewage treatment standards.

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