Saturday, 18 June, 2016

THE WISE MEN OF THE TAC

66. THE WISE MEN OF THE TAC

THE PLUMBING CONSULTANT

Every new project that comes up in Karnataka, be it a Manufactory, a Residential complex, a Software complex, a Retail Mall, Hospital, Hotel, School, College etc., is required to set up a Wastewater Treatment Plant – A sewage Treatment Plant ( STP) in the case of domestic Wastewater or an Effluent Treatment Plant ( ETP) in the case of process or trade wastes.  That is the terminology used and don’t  ask me why.

This story pertains strictly to the first category of STPs -  Shit and piss.

Every promoter of such projects, not being an expert himself in designing or executing an STP falls back upon a one stop solution for all his woes, and that is his Architect.    The Architect in most cases is only a middle man (Almost all Architectural firms I have had the misfortune to deal with, if only briefly, fall in this category) and brings on board consultants and engineers of various other disciplines required to complete the project which typically will include a :

- Structural Designer
- Plumbing consultant
- Electrical Consultant
- Landscape Consultant
- HVAC Consultant
- Govt. Liaison and commission agent ( much like the Architect himself)

The cost cutting starts at this point when the Architect does not want to employ a specialist Environmental Consultant and asks the Plumbing Consultant to double up and design the STP.  Most plumbing consultants lack the professionalism required to say NO to an assignment they are not competent to handle.  Greed, avarice and the comfort of Google goad them to take on a task that they are just not equipped to handle.  They then end up “ Designing an STP with a little help from Google”  - see my earlier Blog on this subject :


What should be a only a two page concise design brief of an STP containing only pointed and pertinent design basis, design criteria, engineering criteria becomes a big fat tender document with a lot of extraneous crap and totally missing the critical Design and engineering framework.  All manner of STPs are acceptable to this plumber including Septic tanks, Anaerobic systems, UASB, Electrocoagulation Systems, RBC, SBR, MBBR, MBR, EAAS, Enzyme based systems ( ?),  $%#@, and +*%& etc.  Google rather than domain knowledge and expertise is the Friend, Philosopher and Guide for these Commission agents. 

And there is another breed of consultants with Zero technical knowledge who will simply plump for an SBR system simply because “ 99% of STP’s in Bangalore are designed as SBR’s.”


THE TECHNICAL ADVISORY COMMITTEE ( TAC)

Sitting in judgement over this load of shit and piss generated by the crapsters is a bunch of equally wise men of the TAC constituted by the State Pollution Control Board.  All good men mind you.  I am talking about a bunch more than three years ago consisting of Academicians, retired foresters, fishermen, Agriculturists and suchlike who in all their lives have seen STPs only in these crappy reports. 

In order to show them the real world outside their ivory towers, I took them on a tour of STP’s that they themselves had vetted and approved.  The day tour took them to STPs based on SBR, EADOx, MBBR, MBR - All of them defunct.  In the MBR installation which the team visited ( A self styled Seven Star hotel near Yeshwantpur)  there was a pipeline leading out of the STP transferring raw, untreated sewage directly outside the premises.  So that the STP Operator will not have to scratch his head trying to figure out the Best Operation Procedure ( BOP),  the Pipeline was clearly marked in BOLD LETTERS and in  indelible paint :  “ STP BYPASS”.

Having shown to the TAC first hand their folly in approving all and sundry STP designs of these plumbing consultants, I was hoping for some words of appreciation for having opened their eyes to the pathetic state of the STPs they had approved.  Not just me, thousands of honest citizens in the City would thank the TAC to do their job with due diligence and right application of mind.

Alas ! that was not to be. At the end of the tour, the leader of the TAC team pompously declared that the STPs suffered and were dysfunctional  due to “Poor Operation & Maintenance”.  As a natural corollary therefore no blame should attach to them.  All the STP proposals they had scrutinised and approved were perfect in design and Engineering.

I had to bow my head before these wise men if only to hide the uncontrollable fits of laughter I was breaking into.


Dr. Ananth S Kodavasal                                                                                                June 18, 2016



P.S : I write this piece on the day our Company Ecotech celebrates 30 years of being in the Environmental Control Business. It only saddens me that after all these years neither the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board nor the plumbing consultants have been able to crack the STP Design conundrum.  The lakes of Bangalore suffer on account of these Charlatans.  Honest citizens of Bangalore are destined to suffer lifelong on account of defunct STPs in their backyard.  A perennial source of water for secondary usages is being squandered mindlessly. These quacks must really be put behind bars for professional misconduct and criminal malpractice.  

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