Protest brews over project to treat septic waste at Kozhikode MCH plant

Kozhikode Corporation to utilise 100 KLD capacity of the faecal sludge treatment plant situated on medical college hospital premises

Published - June 11, 2024 11:14 pm IST - Kozhikode

The Kozhikode Corporation’s Sewage Treatment Plant on the premises of the Government Medical College.

The Kozhikode Corporation’s Sewage Treatment Plant on the premises of the Government Medical College. | Photo Credit: K. Ragesh

The Kozhikode Corporation’s recent project to scientifically process septic waste from across the city at the 0.1 MLD faecal sludge treatment plant (FSTP) on the Government Medical College Hospital (MCH) premises has triggered protest from staff and students of the medical college.

The project was launched by District Collector Snehil Kumar Singh on Monday, and the first tanker load of septic waste was transferred to the FSTP under police protection on Monday night as protesters attempted to block stop it.

The Corporation set up the facility on the orders of the District Collector in his capacity as Chairman of the District Disaster Management Authority in an effort to check unscientific dumping of faecal matter in waterbodies. The move is expected to put an end to the spread of waterborne diseases which are often caused by contamination of water owing to the presence of faecal matter. The Corporation had launched specially designed vehicles for the purpose on Monday.

There are four sewage treatment plants (STPs) on the medical college premises with a total capacity of 5.1 MLD. They were set up with the purpose of keeping the MCH and its premises clean and sanitised. However, the protesting staff and students alleged that they were yet to serve their purpose completely as the networking of pipelines connecting all buildings with the STPs had not been completed. Bringing faecal waste from other parts of the city into the campus would sabotage the purpose of STPs, they said.

“The medical college hospital has a daily turnout of around 6,000 patients. There are around 3,000 students and even more visitors. This place is equivalent to a thickly populated residential area. How can the Corporation be so careless that so much waste is shifted to this place putting everyone’s health at risk?” asked Dr. M.P. Sreejayan, Superintendent, MCH.

The MCH authorities had earlier voiced concerns about setting up STPs near hostels and had complained formally when the Corporation devised plans to treat waste from across the city on its premises.

“The plant could have been located at some less populated area. Even inside the MCH compound, the land given up for the Mono Rail project near the Tertiary Cancer Care Centre could have been used for the purpose,” Dr. Sreejayan said.

Meanwhile, the Corporation maintained that the concerns of the MCH authorities were baseless. “We are utilising only 100 KLD of the facility. There will only be a maximum of 20 loads of waste transferred per day, not 50 loads as they assume. There remains a lot more work for the system to become full-fledged,” said S. Jayasree, Health Standing Committee chairperson of the Corporation.

Another major concern of the protesters is that the load is being transferred through the main pathway of the MCH. “We have another road to the STPs being constructed linking CWRDM Road, which will soon be opened,” Ms. Jayasree said.

The Corporation is also planning to repair the old STP set up by the Kerala Water Authority as foul smell has started emanating from it. As for completing the network of pipelines, she said the various septic tanks and soak pits in each building had to be linked to a single point to be connected to the STP, for which the MCH authorities need to take initiative, Ms. Jayasree added.

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