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Do Water & Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Acts cover housing complexes?

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Urban DevelopmentGovernance

When the KSPCB sent us a notice for the first time in May, '07, I, as the then President of the association, raised a query with them as under:

Ours is a high-rise apartment complex comprising 126 dwelling units, situated at the above address. The only waste we generate is the sewage from toilets which is discharged into the BWSSB sewage line running below the main road adjoining our complex, for which BWSSB is levying us a 'sanitory charge', as a part of the monthly water bill. As such, please advise on what basis your organisation should be levying any annual 'consent fee' on our complex.

 

I am not sure I received a reply. Whatever, our maintenance manager stopped being bothered by their inspectors, and we forgot about it. But, apparently, they continued sending notices year after year (which I was not aware of since I had meanwhile stepped down from office), though they had not been pressing for compliance. A fresh notice has just been served last week.

A pertinent para in the notice reads as below:

Please note that establishing/ operating the commercial complex/ apartment without valid Consent of the Board is in violation of section25/26 of Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974 and section 21 of the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981 which Invites penal provisions under section 44 of Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974 and Section 37 of Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981.

The word 'commercial' is significant. I expect, if there is a club-house as part of the complex, which is being run on a commercial basis by the promoters, as in quite a few instances in the city, the Acts may apply (But, that's not for me to bother with now).

Further, from a perusal of the relevant Acts, 

Sec 2 (definitions) (k) of Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974 reads: "trade effluent" includes any liquid, gaseous or solid substance which is discharged from any premises used for carrying on any industry; operation or process or treatment and disposal system other than domestic sewage, and

..

Sec 2 (definitions) (k) of Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981 reads: "Industrial plant" means any plant used for any industrial or trade purposes and emitting any air pollutant into the atmosphere.

There's no mention anywhere in either of the Acts of their being applicable to housing complexes.

As such, I think the notices being sent out are only part of an exercise to extort some underhand money by some 'enterprising' officials. The very fact that they did not bother to enforce compliance for over 3 years, adds to the suspicion.

Does any body know better?

Muralidhar Rao

Comments

Naveen's picture

Refer to promoter ?

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It might be better to refer this to the builder /developer & ask them for an opinion.

murali772's picture

not the right people

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Promoters will generally take the easy way out. I would like to understand the legal position as well as the logic.

Muralidhar Rao
Naveen's picture

Our Example

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Mr Murali,

We are having cases where the corpn is sending notices to some houses, claiming undervaluation & that the registered value had been less than market rates. All houses in our community were registered sometime in the 2004-06 period when this area was not part of BBMP & when land values were a fraction of what it is today.

The developer has advised us that such cases must be referred to them & their legal cell would deal with the issue.

Thus, my post. Grateful if you could advise the legal position if & when you get to know since it might be useful to all.

murali772's picture

that's another racket

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@Naveen

On the question of 'Under-valuation' - check this

Muralidhar Rao
murali772's picture

a small victory

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With our complex association deciding at the last AGM to pay up the consent fee demanded by the KSPCB, much against my advice, I once again filed an RTI query (with the KSPCB), on the 8th Nov, as under:

I live in a high-rise housing complex comprising 126 dwelling units, situated at the above address. The only waste we generate is the sewage from toilets, which is discharged into the BWSSB sewage line running below the main road adjoining our complex, for which BWSSB is levying us a 'sanitary charge'. Now, your organisation is already levying an annual 'consent fee' on BWSSB pertaining to the job they are undertaking on behalf of all the complexes they are providing their services to. As such, please advise on what basis your organisation should again be levying your annual 'consent fee' on our complex, as well as other individual complexes.

Incidentally, our complex was commissioned in Dec 2004, when it was not mandatory for housing complexes, whatever the size, to have their own STP's, as long as they could get a BWSSB sewage connection.

Yesterday, I received a response forwarding a copy of GoK notification no: FEE 22 EPC 2009 (P-1) dt 4.08.2010, which in essence says that

"KPSCB shall not ask from proponents to obtain consent to establish and to operate non-polluting residential and commercial constructions of less than 20,000 sqM built-up area, established or to be established, in sewered area wherein permission from BWSSB/ BBMP/ Municipalities/ Corporations is obtained to discharge in sewer lines and charges paid to these authorities".

The order gives immediate effect, but is silent on fees already collected. I suppose those who paid become suckers.

I would like to believe my original query of May '07 triggered the re-thinking in the matter by the KSPCB.

 

Muralidhar Rao

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