Protests mount against STP project in Kerala’s West Kochi

Current regime has no role in selection of site or project, as it was cleared by previous corporation councils, says Kochi Mayor

Public protests against the proposed sewage treatment plant (STP) in West Kochi are continuing even as Cochin Smart Mission Limited (CSML), the project implementation agency, remains unfazed.

The mission authorities are waiting for the results of the soil test to initiate the project. A public meeting was organised at Kalvathy on Wednesday evening protesting against CSML’s decision to set up the plant at the site at Kalvathy, which, according to the protesters, was once a pond.

Protests will be intensified in the coming days against the setting up of the plant at the site, which is located close to hospitals and other establishments, said T.K. Ashraf, chairman, health standing committee of the Kochi Corporation. The proposed site is recorded as a pond in the Basic Tax Register, and the Kochi Corporation had earlier denied permission for it, he added.

The protesters also plan to move a writ petition in the Kerala High Court challenging CSML’s decision to set up the plant, he said.

The 6.5-million-litre-per-day capacity plant has been proposed at a 45-cent holding near the Kalvathy canal. The ₹166-crore plant will cater for divisions 1 to 5 of the Kochi Corporation.

Mayor’s stand

Meanwhile, Kochi Mayor M. Anilkumar said the present regime had no role in the selection of the site or the project, as it was cleared during the terms of the previous councils led by the Congress. Projects once approved by the councils cannot be changed by subsequent councils, he added.

The issue was discussed with the Chief Secretary following public protests. However, the authorities were not in favour of scrapping it. They pointed out that the city lacked an effective STP mechanism, and septage was being directly discharged into drains and waterbodies, triggering serious health concerns, he said.

The director board of CSML had also refused to reconsider the project when the issue was raised at the meeting. All the board members unequivocally argued for the project. They also said that similar projects proposed in Kochi under the Kerala Sustainable Urban Development Project and Jawahar Lal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission had to be shelved for some reason or the other, while arguing for the project, he said.

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