The Supreme Court, on March 11, 2019, dismissed a plea by the Karnataka government, seeking vacation of a stay on the proposal to pump secondary treated water from its sewage treatment plants (STPs) in Bengaluru into irrigation tanks in Kolar district, for recharging the ground water table. A bench headed by chief justice Ranjan Gogoi expressed its displeasure that the state government had not mentioned requisite details, in its application seeking vacation of the apex court’s stay order of January 7, 2019.
“Are you playing around with the court? There are no details in your application. It is a bland application,” the bench, which also comprised justices Deepak Gupta and Sanjiv Khanna, said. “The application for vacating the stay order dated January 7, 2019, does not mention adequate material and details, on the basis of which the court can come to the conclusion that the order dated January 7 requires reconsideration,” the bench said and noted that the state government has not even mentioned the correct date of the stay order, in its application. The apex court, however, granted liberty to the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board and the Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board, to file appropriate applications for vacating the interim order.
SC restrains pumping of treated sewage water from Bengaluru to Kolar, for recharging ground water
The Supreme Court has restrained the Karnataka government from pumping treated sewage water into irrigation tanks in Kolar district for recharging the ground water table, following reports that the water was contaminated
January 8, 2019: The Supreme Court, on January 7, 2019, restrained the Karnataka government from pumping secondary treated water from its sewage treatment plants (STPs) in Bengaluru, into irrigation tanks in Kolar district for recharging the ground water table, after taking note of a report claiming that the water was contaminated. The apex court stayed the Karnataka High Court order, by which the state government was allowed to pump the secondary treated water from Bengaluru-based STPs to the minor irrigation tanks situated in Kolar district, for recharging the ground water table under the K&C valley project.
A bench of chief justice Ranjan Gogoi and justice SK Kaul took note of the submission of lawyer Prashant Bhushan that the high court ‘overlooked’ a report, which had pointed out that the water, to be pumped for recharging the ground water table, was contaminated and had contained ‘higher heavy metals, high nutrients, higher biochemical oxygen demand and chemical oxygen demand’. It also issued notices to the state government and other government bodies, including the Department of Minor Irrigation, Central Ground Water Board and Karnataka State Pollution Control Board, on the plea of R Anjaneya Reddy, a resident of Chikkaballapura in Karnataka. Reddy had challenged the September 28, 2018 high court order, by which an earlier direction was modified and the state government and its agencies were allowed to pump the secondary treated water from the STPs of Bengaluru city to the minor irrigation tanks situated in Kolar district, for recharging the ground water table under the project.
The plea alleged that earlier, the high court, on July 24, 2018, had restrained the government from restarting the pumping of the secondary treated water. Reddy, in his plea, said that he had submitted before the high court, a report of the Energy and Wetlands Research Group, Centre for Ecological Sciences and the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, on the quality of treated water meant for recharging the ground water table. “The said report explicitly pointed out that the water quality from the pumping point outlet of Bellandur Sewage Treatment Plant and the Lakes of Kolar (Lakshmisagara and Narasapura Lake), which received the secondary treated water, have been contaminated with higher heavy metals, high nutrients…,” it said.
The high court ‘did not take cognisance of the said report and without considering the impact of the project on the drinking water sources of the region’ and modified the earlier order, it alleged. The high court failed to appreciate that the right to safe drinking water is a fundamental right, guaranteed under Article 21 of the constitution and by supplying water containing hard metals and pollutants harmful to the living being, a large population of Kolar, Chickkaballapura and Bengaluru rural district are curtailed of their fundamental right, it said. It sought a stay on the high court order and a direction to the state government, to stop pumping secondary treated water from its STPs into the minor irrigation tanks of Kolar district.