Apartments discuss sustainable solutions

BESCOM MD,Manivannan P engaged the audience with game that illustrated the functioning of the government, private sector and how government should work. Pic courtesy: The Alternative

The residents of various apartments in Bangalore assembled in The Energy and Resource Institute campus in Domlur on Saturday, 15 June 2013, at a campaign for self-sufficient apartment communities, initiated by Apartment Adda and The Alternative.

Experts and intellectuals from various arenas were also present to discuss various obstacles faced by the bulk waste generators, specifically apartments.

Recently, There has been buzz in the city apartments about sustainable consumption of water and energy and management of solid waste. Management Committee of the apartments have become more accountable and have folded their sleeves to manage the consumption of non- renewable resources: Water and energy.

Apartments like the Brigade gateway, Manas Sarovar, Oasis Breeze, have successfully implemented garbage compost and accurate water metering, that measures the flow of water and the tariff and attempts to gauge the leakage or wastage of water.

These success stories were backed up with expert solutions from Avinash Krishnamurthy, the Director of Biome Environmental solutions, Kalpana Kar from the BBMP Solid Waste Expert Committee, Director of imeter Solutions Vinod Damodaran,  Dr. Ananth Kodavasal, author of the STP Guide Book and MDN Simha, Retired chief environment officer, KSPCB.

The campaign was divided in two sessions: First; it dealt with the novel idea of wireless water metering followed by a discussion on sub-metering and reuse of STP water in older apartments and sharing of perspective of the Pollution Control Board. The second session discussed about new trends in waste management, home-based composting methods and renewable energy from apartment waste.

The event took off with active discussions between Sajin Kunhambu, Managing Committee Member, Oasis Breeze and the other management committee members of various apartments. He explained the use of multiple inlets that has eradicated the problem of water pressure on each floor. The tariff is based on the bulk consumption which is measured at the water tank/ sumps.

At this point, many apartments complained that they have been charged for more than their actual consumption. Kannan Venkitachalam, who has successfully implemented multiple inlets along with individual mechanical metering in his apartment, stepped in to discuss how can one assess water tariff at individual level that can change the consumption pattern among the residents. In the past, Citizen Matters had explained the process in detail in one of the articles.

The audience appreciated the efforts of Kannan and Sajjin. The discussion was to be followed by a unique and novel idea of wireless  water metering implemented at Nester Raga which did not take place due to absence of the Nester Raga Management committee. As a result, the discussions were further taken down to the process of sub-metering by Vinod Damodaran, Director of imeter solutions along with suitable, similar references to  sub-metering that has been followed by the US for not only water but also for electricity, STP etc.

These brainstorming sessions took a backseat on the arrival of IAS officer, Managing Director of BESCOM, Manivannan, a jovial man who has been known for his transparency of work and his presence on social networking websites like facebook and Twitter.



The campaign ‘Build your apartment’s Green Storey’ was flagged off by Apartment Adda in association with Alternative media and Sahas. Pic courtesy: The Alternative

Manivannan steals limelight

Manivannan immediately jumped in to demonstrate how the government works, by means of a small game. With the help of fifteen volunteers that included management committee members, Kalpana Kar and Avinash Krishnamurthy, he presented the three types of organisations working in the country: The slow, lethargic government employees that have no interest to bring in a change; The risk-taking government that is necessary for a good future; and the private sector organisations that work with self-interest.

What I liked about today’s interaction is the debates and discourses that used to take place in the ambit of governance are now taking place in the ambit of residents. There were discussions on how one can reduce the consumption of water, what are the legal issues in transferring of rights, what is the role of the KSPCB etc.This is an opportunity that communities should make use of.
Avinash Krishnamurthy, Director of Biome Environmental Solutions

He urged people to bring in a change in the society and in the governance by being a part of it or channelising the change from outside.

Avinash asked Manivannan about the plans of BESCOM to implement solar panels on rooftops. Very aptly the answer came, “There is a concerned department for the solar power system Karnataka Renewable Energy Development Ltd. (KREDL) who is in charge of it. BESCOM only deals with the production and sale of electricity. Government will soon come up with a policy of net metering. It will allow you to produce power, consume it and accordingly the amount will be deducted from the amount you pay. We have put forward this proposal in front of government last year. People have been demanding it. In a year’s time it will be implemented, depending on the new government.”

All about sewage treatment plants

Discussions resumed with the set agenda and next topic to discuss was Re-usability of Sewage Treated Water, grey water. Bangalore needs to tap grey water in order to reduce wastage of potable water and let the poor be blessed at least with a drop of it.

Water from the sewage treatment plant can be reused for gardening, toilet and car wash purposes. STP expert Ananth Kodavasal said that the STP plants require 24/7 monitoring as it is necessary to treat the harmful bacteria.

Karnataka State Pollution Control board had made it mandatory for residential complexes with 60 or apartments or if the generation of sewage is more than 50 m3/day to set up their own STP plants. However, he was of the opinion that, “90% of the STP tanks in the city are defunct, mainly because of lack of designed process, engineering or operation and maintenance.”

Can wireless metering be hacked?
An article in Venture Beat, in August 6 2011,stated that wireless metering is easy to hack. The Director of  imeter Solutions, Vinod Damodaran countered this: “Wireless chord only reads the measures the flow of water and cannot be tampered by any jammers as it does not work on cloud basis.”

M D N Simha filled the audience with the acts and rules of the environment that govern the state and should be followed by the citizen. Some of them were:

  • Air Pollution act
  • Environment protection act 1986
  • Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act 1974
  • he Hazardous Waste (Management and Handling) rules 2008
  • Plastic (Management and Handling) rules 2011
  • Batteries (Management And Handling) Rules 2010
  • E-waste (Management & Handling) Rules 2011

Seizing the opportunity, Simha informed the residents to procure all the environment assessment and clearance documents and consent to establish and operate the STP documents legally from the builder.  as the failure to procure these plants would be risky. He reminded the associations that non-compliance of the STP rules or letting sewage into nearby water bodies is not only prohibitory but also prosecutable. Giving one such example, he said, on the probing of legislative, Karnataka State Pollution Control Board had taken actions against many apartments around the Kagasandra lake, who had let their sewage water into the lake.

He assured that residents can anonymously lodge complaints online or offline against the builders, if they are found to be violating rules.

Management Committee members actively participated in discussions to bring solutions for the problems faced by the apartments. Pic courtesy: The Alternative

Solid waste management

After the tea break, the discussions were continued with the topic that currently concerns Bangalore the most – the solid waste management. Kalpana Kar, member of the BBMP SWM expert committee explained the initiatives taken by the government in this regard.

She acknowledged the concerns of people who raised their voice over incapability of BBMP contractors to take the segregated waste. “Contractors unfortunately do not get incentive to bring the segregated waste at the other end,” she remarked, at which the audience giggled.

She hoped the pilot project of dry waste management, initiated in nearly 140 wards , will be able to become solution for this problem. She pointed out that Karnataka is sending the tetra packs for recycling at Maharashtra.

Two case studies on management of solid waste and detailed information of how Saahas, an organisation that works on segregating solid waste at the source were also presented.

Madhu Ramamoorthy, Member of Waste Management Group, Brigade Gateway apartment, revealed that their 120 apartments have been segregating the waste long before the government made it mandatory. However, the Brigade apartments have space constraint to set up their own composting unit. They initially placed the unit in their parking area. Since the composting requires fresh air, it was later placed on their terrace.

The manure produced through composting is sold to the farmers at Rs.3 to Rs.10. Rest of the dry waste is given to the contractors who take it to the recycling units. He did not hesitate to admit that their compost at present is not of great quality.

Not only apartments but also individual houses require taking sustainable steps in managing the solid waste of the house. Subbu Hegde, President of the Bannerghatta Villa Association near Meenakshi Mall, explained the steps taken to not only convert the waste into manure but also to recycle the waste water from bathroom and washing machines for gardening, cleaning and other toiletry purposes.

Participants were glad to meet like-minded people and experts.  Ashish Patel said, “Any of the ideas presented today can be taken forward, with the help of the experts we can implement them. I am planning to implement water metering.”

Nivedita Chakraborty, a resident of Elita Promenade, said they are yet to form an association. “However we are looking forward to manage our own waste. Disposable of the waste is the responsibility of the builder but we as residents can manage our own waste. We have formed a group with 20 volunteers to create awareness amongst the people to manage their own waste. We have trained our kids to go door to door and share ideas of waste management,” she explained.

About Nikita Malusare 109 Articles
Nikita Malusare is a Staff Journalist at Citizen Matters.

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