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Vadodara effluents to be made safe for farming

Vishal Datta  |  Vadodara 

Farmers in the central Gujarat region will be able to use treated effluent water from IPCL,GSFC, and for irrigation.
Effluent Channel Project (ECPL), the Vadodara-based effluent disposal channel company, would segregate treated effluent from large for disposal through the existing channel, and untreated effluent from small around Vadodara separately through a pipeline, for final disposal in the Arabian Sea.
The project would be completed in December 2006, but till then effluents would flow through a common channel.
The existing "U" shaped brick masonry conduit/ channel covered with RCC slabs had average flow capacity of 32 million gallons per day (MGD).
It carries treated and untreated effluent and discharged water from chemical manufacturing units in Nandesari, Lakadikuai and Vedach industrial areas, which included IPCL,GSFC,and the IOCL refinery.
Farmers tilling land on both sides of the 56 km long channel had been using contaminated water for irrigation for years. Most of the land was used to grow vegetables catering to central Gujarat, Mumbai and some parts of south Gujarat.
The channel flowed from Dhanora near the Nandesari industrial area to point J near Sarod in the Bay of Cambay in the Arabian sea.
The present effluent channel was commissioned in 1983, from Dhanora (point A) to Sarod (point J) in the estuary of the Mahi river.
Until 1999, the effluent channel project under the state government and GIDC was incorporated into a limited company. Speaking to Business Standard, Arvind Bhatt, managing director of ECPL, said, "Since the inception of ECPL, the effluent channel has became a major source of water for irrigation in villages through which the channel passes."
The effluent-laced water used for agriculture goes into the soil and contaminates ground water.
However, ECPL is aware and concerned about the use of effluent water in agriculture as toxic elements were entering the food chain, he said.
Though ECPL claimed that it had done a detailed study with the Indian Toxicological Research Centre (ITRC) at Lucknow but found no toxic element beyond permissible limits in the region.
After verification, the company has decided to focus on proper effluent disposal and yet supply water to 40,000 farmers, said Bhatt.
Under the proposed effluent segregation plan, such as IPCL, GSFC, and IOCL with own effluent treatment plants would discharge treated water into the existing channel.
This water, if used by farmers, would not harm the environment or affect ground water, claimed Bhatt.
Small-scale industries without effluent treatment plants would discharge their effluent into a pipeline and not into the channel.
Pumping stations would be set up at different points for conveyance of effluent through pipeline to lagoons at Sarod.
According to the company, the 6.0 MGD effluent discharged by large units such as IPCL, GSFC, and IOCL could be discharged into the existing channel after upgradation of the structure.
The remaining 4.0 MGD effluents from small units will be taken by pipeline from Dhanora to Mujpur to Karkhadi to lagoons at Sarod.
Effluents discharged by the small units was a source of concern for ECPL, said Bhatt.
Upgradation work in the channel would be done during periodical shut downs and simultaneous work in different sections using multiple teams.
It would take 18 months of construction time and one shut-down per month, with only 3 km of work per shut down.
Six teams would work simultaneously on different sections for completion of the project work within the stipulated time-frame.
Project work would begin from January 1, 2006, and end by December.
The total capital cost would be Rs 44.7 crore and annual operational and maintenance (O&M) cost at Rs 7 crore.
To implement the project, the company would raise funds from subsidy from the government of India (GoI) under the industrial infrastructure upgradation scheme and financial assistance from the Gujarat for critical infrastructure on the lines of the assistance provided to Ankleshwar, Panoli and Jhagadia clusters for effluent disposal schemes.
Financial assistance from GoI and Gujarat would be 50 and 25 per cent, respectively.
The remaining 25 per cent of the cost would be raised from beneficiaries on pro-rata volume basis.
On September 27, ECPL received approval from GoG, Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB) and ministry of environment and forest (MoEF) for the proposed project.
"By end-December, the company will mobilise requisite funds for the project," said Bhatt.