With the delay in the setting up of a new Sewage Treatment Plant in IMT Manesar, local industrialists are urging HSIIDC to focus on improving the functioning of the existing plant, which has a capacity to treat 15 MLD sewage - as only 40 per cent of the factories are functioning in this industrial area. Amina Sherwani, Founder Member of the Manesar Industries Welfare Association, says, “Why is this current Plant unable to treat sewage? Is there an inherent fault in its design, or in the execution and maintenance? We must study this first and not spend more money to acquire 150 acres of land for adding new capacity, and end up just creating another albatross around our necks. We have observed that many new projects often end up as benefits only for those who commission and construct them,” she alleges. The capacity of the present Sewage Treatment Plant, which is built on 20 acres, can be expanded to 30 MLD within the same area. Sherwani says that in future the authorities should go for models that use less chemicals and power.
For the last several years the residents of Village Kankrola have faced immense problems, as the untreated sewage would enter the village, particularly during the monsoon. “Rainwater would mix with the sewage and enter the houses in this village, causing health and environment problems. The earthen bund constructed by HSIIDC was so weak that it would be breached even when there was mild rain,” alleges Sherwani. Not only is this affecting the ground water in Manesar, but the mixing of treated water with sewage has also impacted the eco-system of Sultanpur Lake, which lies 10 kilometres away. It is due to the poor planning and development of this industrial area that this historical Lake has shrunk from 600 metres to 300 metres in the last one decade. Sherwani says that the natural drains that used to recharge the water bodies have been damaged, due to concretisation and unnatural construction. “The rainwater that used to go to the lakes and other small water bodies now waterlogs the villages inside Manesar. When it mixes with the untreated sewage it creates havoc in the lives of people,” she asserts.
Sherwani further says that fertility of the soil, quality of water and the health of local villagers is all being affected because of the poor maintenance and upkeep of the Sewage Treatment Plant. She has filed a Civil Writ Petition in the Supreme Court, to prevent further acquisition of land in Manesar - which has been proposed by HSIIDC on the pretext of expansion of the industrial area. This, at a time when less than half the factories are functioning.
Sherwani’s husband, Milin Kapoor, says that HSIIDC has changed the land use of several plots that were meant for social infrastructure, which has negatively affected the quality of life of both the labour as well as industry. “Where is the Dhobi ghat, the Shamshaan ghat, parking for trucks and trailers, plots for the group housing of workers? HSIIDC has changed the land use and sold them as commercial plots, and this has happened in several instances,” the duo asserts. They also say that the farmers in the adjoining areas, whose land is now being proposed to be acquired, are also fighting in the courts to thwart this nefarious design of the State. “The officials need to understand the implications of indiscriminate land acquisition, and instead focus on using the existing land wisely,” they say.