Indore is slowly turning into a model city for the whole of India. Having been awarded the cleanest city in India title for the past 2 years, cleaning up may well have become a part of the bloodstream of Indore so to speak.
Keeping up with the prestigious award the people and authorities are doing their bit successfully.
The River Kahn and Saraswati are part of Indore and Madhya Pradesh’s Urban heritage but, due to industrial growth over the ’70s, rising population, and other factors, the river has been exposed to direct dumping of waste and open defecation.
Asheesh Singh, Indore Municipal Commissioner, and his team have successfully treated a 2km stretch of River Saraswati and made it 100% sewage free by treating it through a fully functional Sewage Treatment Plant (STP).
“What makes this model unique is its capacity to recycle eight MLD (millions of liter per day) of sewage into clean water. Apart from environmental and health benefits, this project is also helping us conserve water. The recycled water is used to fill up other dry water bodies and water 250 gardens. The presence of fish inside the Saraswati river is our validation for success,” Singh explains.
From the rigorous mapping of sewage outfalls to restricting encroachments, rehabilitation of houses on the riverbank, and around-the-clock civil construction activity were some of the measures adopted by IAS Singh and Indore Municipal Corporation (IMC) to achieve this feat.
“The old primary lines were installed ten years ago that started degrading around two years ago. Due to this, sewage was being released directly into the river instead of entering the STP for its treatment. The lines even choked causing a sewage overflow,” Singh explains.
IAS Singh and his team came up with a plan in 2018 to restore both the rivers by installing six decentralized STPs with a cumulative capacity to treat 65 MLD of sewage from 434 locations across the city.
The sewage enters an STP for treatment which is then directed into a river. This process prevents river pollution and groundwater contamination.
Since Saraswati was polluted due to damage or lack of sewage lines, mapping the sewage outfalls was the first step IMC took. Once identified, they were marked to lay new pipelines and connect it to STP.
The next task was to find places to install the STPs inside the city. For this, 250 households were rehabilitated due to space crunch.
To maintain water quality, IMC also created artificial floating islands with the help of a private firm. An artificial floating island is a soil-less structure constructed with floating mats, aquatic plants, sediment-rooted emergent wetland plants that reduce algae by recycling phosphorus and nitrogen. The islands also improve the Biological Oxygen Demand (BOD) level of the water. BOD is the unit for testing the amount of oxygen in the water.
“BOD level should be less than 10 ppm (parts per million). If the level is high then the river is heavily polluted and as per our recent test, Saraswati’s level is eight as against 70 or 80,” Singh proudly says.