Why has the Lakes and Waterways Development Authority (LAWDA) failed to deliver? Experts – in and out of the government – say that wrong technology was selected under questionable circumstances. Dr. Kundangar’s paper is followed by a comment from Mr. Khurshid Naqib.
(Dr. Mohammad Rashid-ud-din Kundangar, 62, was born in Srinagar. He completed his Masters degree in Botany, and Doctoral/Postdoctoral degree in Hydrobiology through the University of Kashmir. He served as a lecturer in Botany and Head of the Hydrobiology Research laboratory or about 25 years. Prof. Kundangar has about hundred research publications to his credit and has been actively involved in environmental studies with special reference to aquatic resources of the J&K State. He is the approved research guide of University of Kashmir, Barkatullah University, Bhopal, University of Roorkee and has supervised a number of M Phil candidates and PhD scholars. He has been the Chief Investigator of various state and centrally sponsored minor and major research projects. He was a founder Director Research & Development, J&K Lakes and Waterways Development Authority, and preceding retirement from the government service served as Principal of the Degree College. Dr Kundangar is the author of a number of books and is the Dean of Academics and the Head of the Department of Lake Sciences and Water Management in the SSM College of Engineering, the only privately run engineering institute in the valley. Dr Kundangar has been the consultant ecologist for various J&K government departments and a member of the Wetland Committee set up by Government of India. He has attended number of National and International conferences and toured various Asian and European countries.
Mr. Khurshid Ahmed Naqib, served briefly as the Vice Chairman (VC) of LAWDA, is a graduate of the University of Kashmir. He completed a diploma in hotel and hospitality management from Tamil Nadu and s course in Marketing with focus on tourism from the World Tourism Organization, Turin, Italy, and took credits in MBA (International marketing) from the University of Oklohoma. After joining the state service, he became the head of the She-e-Kashmir International Convention Centre (SKICC), and Managing Director of the Jammu and Kashmir Tourism Development Authority (JKTDC). As the VC of LWDA, he was the first executive to tackle enroachment of the Dal Lake with some degree of success by relocating two fishermen colonies.)
Dal Cleaning Project: No need to teach, we already know this
FEEDBACK BY DR. MUHAMMAD RASHID-UD-DIN KUNDANGAR
In their article in the Greater Kashmir, Aswin Dinakar and others had tried to explain the Constructed Wetlands and their applicability in a lucid and simple language. I as a student of aquatic ecology appreciate their efforts but would like to convey them and to learned readers of GK that what authors have written about Constructed Wetlands and their role in wastewater management is not Greek to the scientists of this part of the world.
We in Kashmir acknowledge the fact that Constructed Wetlands comprise an amazing diversity of managed ecosystems and provide an impressive array of water quality improvement mechanisms, have successfully carried out research studies on Constructed Wetlands both in situ and ex situ conditions somewhere in year 2000-02. The root zone technology utilized in the form of Constructed Wetlands were carried out on experimental basis and simultaneously under in situ microcosm experiments under the Research and Development programme of LAWDA and it was observed that Phragmites communis and Typha angustata can accumulate maximum nitrogen up to 45% and 58% respectively, similarly the phosphorus accumulation in Typha was 88% while in Phragmites it was 177%. In Lemna sp. and Salvinia natans accumulation of Potassium was 242.8% and 15.3% respectively besides other nutrients. The findings revealed that a uni model series of Constructed Wetlands can reduce nitrogen by 70% and Phosphorus by 73%.
We are also aware of the fact that the Constructed Wetlands have gained momentum in Developed countries like Scandinavia, U.K., Australia, New Zealand, U.S.A and also in developing Asian countries like Nepal, Bangladesh and India. The technology is cost effective, independent of electric energy and suitable under Kashmir conditions but unfortunately not viable to our politicians and people with vested interests.
Constructed Wetlands has also been recommended by the Wetland International experts in their MAP on Wular Lake which reads as, “The villages in the proximity of the Southern part of Wular are scattered and waste water generated from these habitation shall be taken care of by using Wetlands Mediated Technology — The goal of using wastewater treatment through wetland mediated technologies is for the removal of contaminants from the water in order to decrease the possibility of detrimental impacts on humans and aquatic ecosystem — It is proposed to construct treatment Wetlands in 10 villages in Southern lake periphery to control diffused sources of pollution — A pre-treatment tank will be constructed before allowing sewage to enter into the constructed wetland system, each unit will comprise of different types of aquatic vegetation based on their nutrient uptake capacity.”
Even on date, our juvenile civil engineers in SSM College of Engineering and Technology very recently have completed a project envisaging, ‘constructed Wetland for treatment of Wastewaters’ for Parihaspora village. According to these authors they have been able to remove Nitrate and phosphate by about 65% besides lowering number of hazardous elements using Typha angustata, Phragmites communis in associations with Lemna minor in the Constructed Wetlands. There is no doubt that the Constructed Wetlands is the most successful Technology which could be considered in our valley for the conservation of lakes and other degraded aquatic ecosystems but the million dollar question is, Who are the takers of this technology?
When the Constructed Wetlands Technology was recommended and strongly advocated for Dal Lake, the authorities at the highest level had already entered into a “DEAL” and thus the advocates of this technology (R&D Wing) had to face the wrath. People with vested interests saw to it that all these scientists are sacked and not only the entire Research and Development Wing was wound up but the entire building housing the LAWDA research labs. was handed over to the Health Department. Scientists at LAWDA were humiliated and entrusted with peculiar and unfamiliar jobs like works supervisors, monitoring squads, gauge readers and rendered headless and redundant. The enraged bosses of the time made them subservient to the Engineering wings and had to work under their thumb and dictations. They were taught to use tamed parrot like words before the visitors to give an impression that the lake is improving and pristine glory of the lake is being restored.
I am of the firm opinion that the present Sewage Treatment System is a failure and disastrous for both Dal and Nigeen lake and in near future the condition of the Nigeen lake will be as that of the Brarinambal (it will turn into a stinking cesspool). My scientific observations on the basis of independent monitoring and surveillance is confirmed by the recent status report of State Pollution Control Board (May-July, 2009) and it bears testimony to the fact that the Dal waters are deteriorating at an alarming rate due to malfunctioning of STP’s and with drastic changes in physico-chemical parameters, biodiversity and perpetual obnoxious algal blooms.
The onus of failures of Dal lake conservation programme solely lies on the so called Consultants of Roorkee and the temporarily hired experts who have managed their entry through foul means and also for advocating for adoption of STP’s, proven as failure under Kashmir climatic conditions.
Dal Cleaning Project: Some Facts
LETTER TO THE EDITOR: KHURSHID AHMED NAQIB
This refers to Dr.Kundangar‘s article ‘Dal cleaning Project’ published in the Greater Kashmir newspaper. Dr. Kundangar has been forthright in his observations regarding the inefficiency of the present Sewage Treatment Plants (STP’s) and the untapped potential of wetland technology for the Dal lake conservation. Having been at the leading and encouraging end of Dr. Kundangar’s recommended technology I would like to add a few facts for the benefit of those who are concerned about the state of the Lake, although sadly it seems there are not many of them in the state.
‘Root Zone Technology’ was started during my tenure in LWDA on experimental basis. The experiments gave encouraging results. Unfortunately, tapping this technology fully could not be carried forward on a bigger scale after our ouster. In simple terms the root zone technology system has low maintenance cost since it involves no machinery and also requires negligible operation and monitoring costs. Root Technology enhances landscape and provides right habitat for birds. In other words this amounts to artificially constructed wetland. With limited funds and lack of proper infrastructure ( i.e. electricity) , this could have been the answer for many of the areas of Srinagar where untreated sewage finds its way to the lake. Research supports that this technology is not only cost effective but sustainable as well. Regarding DK’s observation on STPS, he has missed a point, deliberately or otherwise. For his recollection ,and the readers who follow the trail of articles declaring the slow demise of ‘Dal Lake’ regularly,
I would like them to refer to my article carried by Greater Kashmir I had provided some key facts and remarks regarding the STPs. Unfortunately no one including the State and followers of the lake ecology reacted to those facts. I had written the article with an aim and hope that a discussion would follow and facts would come to light and eventually right steps would be taken for restoration of the Lake ecology. At that time even Dr,Kundangar thought it wise to remain silent. His observations on STP technology now adopted by LAWDA were recorded and circulated in my time.. Even in the presentation given by the AHEC way back in 2001-2002 and presided by the present Chief Minister of J&K , I as the VC of LWDA had stopped AHEC from making a commercial presentation in a scientific session, .What happened after our suspension is history. Someone needs to probe and investigate the files (if in existence} and make public our remarks.
Last Word: The Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) on technology used in Dal Cleaning in 2006-2007 – says LAWDA’s is Lying
CAG Pulls up LAWDA on STPs Around Kashmir’s Dal Lake (18 May 2007)
Srinagar: The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India has pulled up the Lakes and Waterways Development Authority (LAWDA) for going ahead with the construction of Sewage Treatment Plants (STPs) around the periphery of the famous Dal Lake in Kashmir despite the central government’s serious reservations about these.
In a report, the CAG said the Dal Lake has been used as a receptacle for large quantities of waste water and untreated human wastes from the peripheral areas through a number of drains that enter into it. With a view to arresting the inflow of waste water and sewage into the Dal Lake, LAWDA proposed the installationof six STPs at different spots around its periphery, it added.
However, the report said the Union Urban Development Ministry expressed doubt over the effectiveness of the STPs during cold weather conditions and the sustainability of huge maintenance costs.
Audit scrutiny also revealed that the project report did not include a plan for connecting houses to treatment plants.
Despite concerns expressed by the Union Ministry, LAWDA in August 2004 allotted the construction of three STPs at Hazratbal, Laam (Nishat) and Habak to a private firm at a cost of Rs 8.90 crore with the scheduled date of completion as May 2005.
Out of the three STPs, the ones at Hazratbal and Habak had been commissioned during February and April 2006, the report said. In October 2006, LAWDA claimed that the STPs were working efficiently and that the Dal Lake’s health would improve after all the STPs were completed and commissioned.
However, according to an analytical report of the research and monitoring division of LAWDA in August 2006, concentration of some of the nutrients present in the waste water increased at the outflow stage vis-a-vis inflow stage despite receiving treatment at STPs.
The percentage efficiency of the two STPs ranged between 63.39 and (-) 366.3. Also, the STPs did not match the prescribed norms, particularly with regard to inorganic nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus, the report said.
According to the report, measures were required to be taken for effective treatment of sewage to prevent detrimental impact on the lake ecology as entry of raw sewage was one of the major causes of its enhanced eutrophy.
LAWDA’s contention in October 2006 that the STPs were working efficiently was, therefore, not acceptable, the CAG said.