Not Smart! Letting Sewer System Flow into Open Drain resulting in Residents Woes

Not Smart! Letting Sewer System Flow into Open Drain resulting in Residents Woes of Mannagudda/Gundu Rao Lane

Mangaluru: Within a few hours after published the article “A Smelling City! Education Hub Mangaluru turns out to be a ‘Open Drainage Hub’?” on 3 May 2019, Yours Truly received a few calls, including one from my relatives, all residing in the vicinity of Gundu Rao Lane/Mannagudda-Mangaluru requesting to highlight the sewer system being allowed to flow into open drainage issue, which has created not only a disaster, but also unbearable foul smell in that locality- where some residents have even gone sick due to the filthy condition of the drainage, where mosquitoes are seen breeding. And like my earlier article was addressed to the two MLA’s on Mangaluru, but this one is for the kind attention of MLA Vedavyas Kamath, who also resides not far from this vicinity. So why has this issue still not addressed and rectified by our elected MLA, is something that many residents are asking- and unfortunately no one is getting the RIGHT ANSWER?

Since I was out of town, I couldn’t oblige the residents on 3 May, but on Sunday 5 May, I went to Mannagudda and interacted with few of the residents, and here is the report for your kind perusal to learn more. Right after the Sunday Mass at Milagres Church- I made my journey towards Mannagudda. By the time I reached Gandhinagar,( near to Mannagudda/Gundu Rao Lane), the home place of MLA Vedavyas Kamath, who’s Facebook page logo read as “DEVELOPMENT OF MANGALURU IS MY MANTRA”, the story of contaminated storm drains was shocking. As I neared Gundu Rao Lane in Mannagudda, I smelled the issue before I saw it. Sewer water was gushing from failed underground piping into the open drainage system.

Contaminated Well in ‘Pais Garden’

Many of the residents had told me that their wells which provided precious drinking water were now contaminated as a result, and one such well is of the family residing in ‘” Pais Garden” there. Many residents have taken samples from the surrounding wells and have confirmed the tragedy, and a few are yet to get the results. The groundwater had been contaminated by sewage. In a time of drought, where every precious drop of water matters, the loss of these wells is heartbreaking. I wonder how many other areas of Mangaluru have succumbed to the same fate.

Contrary to the current circumstances in Mangaluru, a sewer system and a storm drain system are not the same. These two systems are completely different, but due to the rapid growth of the city coupled with the aging sewer system, many sewer systems have fallen into disrepair and are leaking toxic sewage into the open storm drain systems. And our “Smart Officials” of “Smart City Development Project “are yet to figure out a way to rectify the decades-old issue-probably by 2050 if everything goes well, the stinking open drain problem could come to an end.

In making this report more informative- The water that goes down a sink or toilet in your home or business flows through the sewer system, an underground enclosed pipe, to a wastewater treatment plant where it is filtered and chemically treated. This renders the water safe for release into the water system. The water that flows down houses and streets and into a gutter goes into a storm drain, which flows directly into the local rivers and is carried out to sea. Though having the sewer system flow into the storm drain system is cheap and convenient, the health implications can be disastrous.

Much of Mangaluru’s storm drain systems consist of open gutters with brick or black stone-lined walls and floors. Though the majority of water that enters these gutters flow out to sea, frequent blockages caused by excessive garbage dumping and accumulated mud cause the water to stagnate. MCC do clean this storm drains time to time of plastics and weeds, but the accumulated mud has never ever been removed, because this storm drains are passing through private properties, thus the removal of mud becomes a difficult task. This stagnant water leaches through the brick-lined bottom of the gutter and collects in the fresh groundwater table. When sewage is allowed to sit stagnantly it leaches down into the groundwater. Chemicals and bacteria then contaminate the water table making once clean potable water non-drinkable. A tragedy on any other day but a disaster today, considering how dependent Mangaluru is on its groundwater during this drought.

Already many wells have been found to contain dangerous levels of bacteria and chemicals. These life-giving sources of water which are used by countless, have to turn away many thirsty for their own health. But what about contaminated wells which have not been tested? Even minute amounts of bacteria can cause sicknesses and without proper immediate medical attention, these can cause much suffering and death. Common illnesses caused by contaminated drinking water are Cholera, Guinea worm disease, Typhoid and Dysentery. A few residents in that area are worried that they may get Dengue or Malaria, the way thousands of mosquitoes are breeding in the stagnant drainage water. This has the potential to make the Mangaluru water shortages even more dangerous as hundreds of people may drink this water and become ill.

Even the lack of maintenance of the boundary wall of the stormwater drains have caused the walls to collapse causing the water to accumulate in one place leading to the breeding of mosquitoes which in turn has caused several residents to suffer from many diseases like dengue, malaria, etc. The virus is spread by mosquitoes. A waterborne illness epidemic is imminent across all of the affected areas in the City. Citizens are requested to help by following these basic rules:

– Don’t dump garbage into storm drains and gutters and immediately inform city officials of blockages.

– Notify city officials immediately when storm drains become plugged with mud & garbage. Do not delay as it could mean the contamination of your drinking water source.

– Clean up oil spills and fix leaking automobiles. These can be carried by rain into the storm drain system.

– Petition city officials to build proper underground sewer pipes and maintain current pipes to prevent failures.

– Ask lawmakers to require construction builders and property owners to direct wastewater from the private buildings into sewer pipes and not storm drains. Enforce these requirements with strict fines.

Additionally, if you think your drinking water is contaminated, take these steps before drinking or bathing in the water : Never collect water from a stagnant stream or where the water contains oil; Filter water with reverse osmosis and ultra-filtration to remove harmful chemicals and metals such as nickel, zinc, cadmium, lead, and arsenic. Then treat by either heating to a rolling boil for 5 minutes or using ultraviolet, chlorine, or iodine tablets to kill bacteria; Send a water sample for testing, and The overhead tanks and the sump pits have to be cleaned.

And so apart from many civic issues that’s haunting the citizens of Mangaluru, among them is the long pending OPEN DRAINAGE issue that is creating a stink when you drive, ride or walk in many parts of the City- and nothing has been done by the former mayors, former MLA’s, political leaders- and for the fact, nothing is either done by the current two MLA’s- and in the meantime, the residents living very close to these bunch of Open Drainage have to raise their voices constantly- but with no results. Both the MLA’s are putting the blame on MCC run by Congress honchos and slamming hard on former MLA, Mayor and other MCC officials.

It was reported in an English daily, MLA Vedavyas Kamath quoting on this issue, “If the MCC officials had done their job right, such issues wouldn’t have occurred. How did MCC permit apartments to release sewage water directly into open drains? MCC should not provide license if there is no drainage connectivity. I will surely bring this sewage/open drainage issue to the notice of Deputy Commissioner and follow up with strict action, once the elections are over”. Wow- well said by the MLA. So now to solve this issue the residents of Mannagudda have to still wait for a few more days until the elections are over. And for that matter, in case if someone in that area falls into a well, and is still alive, they will have to wait till the elections are over to pull that person out of the well??

This stormwater drain has left an unpalatable stench in its wake and has turned into a cesspool of filth and sewage, and the odour coming out of this open drainage has plagued Mannagudda area residents, and they are feeling the brunt of this stinky disaster very miserably. But sadly no attempt has been made to rectify this issue since decades, nor attempts made to rein in the odour – for an environment point of view as well as sociologically. This odour from this open drainage must be treated as a pollutant, no doubt at all. Is our DC (the current person in charge of MCC), MLA or other officials in MCC (if any) are listening to the woes of these residents?

Due to the ongoing stench emanating from this drain, it is learnt that a few residents have relocated to different parts of the city. And many of them still residing in that area are worried about the forthcoming situation once monsoon starts, resulting in over-flooding and filthy drainage water seeping into their homes. Some residents say that strangers also dump garbage into this drainage, which results in blockage of water flow. A few of the residents in spite of having their own wells are not able to use the well water due to contamination. This issue has affected nearly 60 families in that vicinity, and even though they had complained about it to MLA Kamath, no action has been taken until now, and most probably he will say “It’s all because of former MLA J R Lobo’s fault”? Ha…

So, until the blame game between the local MLA’s and politicians ceases, the residents of Gundu Rao Lane/Mannagudda have to keep their fingers crossed, until our beloved DC Sasikanth Senthil steps in and solves this long pending issue of stinky open drain that has been haunting the residents. And yes, Clean water is critical to the continued growth of Mangaluru. It is everyone’s duty to keep the stormwater drains clean. Only you can help maintain clean water in Mangaluru for you and your family’s health and safety.

Letting Sewer System Flow into Open Drain resulting in Residents Woes यांनी वर पोस्ट केले सोमवार, ६ मे, २०१९

In conclusion, if the issue is not rectified before the forthcoming MCC elections, a befitting reply should be shown to the candidates contesting for the post of councilors/corporators in your ward- support the person only if she or he, is suitable to listen to your grievances and solve the civic issues- if not stay indoors, and don’t answer the door when they come to ask for your support. Let them solve the OPEN DRAINAGE problem in your area FIRST, which is a health hazard menace.

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If Kamath says it is fault of Lobo it is wrong. Similarly anyone says it is th responsibility of MLA Kamath, that is also wrong. The citizens should be aware of whose responsibilities it is. It is definitely health office, MCC and Corporators who should bear the responsibility. MLAs and MPs should get involved only when the people with primary responsibilities fail. They definitely need to look at who failed and take the matter to the right level but fixing a drainage, fixing potholes, parking skirmishes etc should not be their primary focus but makign sure that drainage system in… Read more »