Dear House-owners, Important Update.
Following last weeks’ closure of our STP by Karikan Nagar representatives, we approached the Sub Collector who directed the Tasildar to hold a peace meeting between 10 representatives each from our township and Karikan Nagar.
The meeting was fixed for 19 February at 4:00 PM at the Tasildar Office and the following executive members represented our interests:
- Mr. Balakrishnan, ex-VAO
- Mr. Gunasekaran, Vice President
- Mr. Kumar, Engineer, Implementation Taskforce Lead
- Mrs. Aruna, Joint Secretary
- Mr. Balakrishnan, Joint Secretary
- Mr. Kamala Kannan, Executive Member
- Mrs. Valliammai, Executive Member
- Mrs. Sujatha Ragothaman, Executive Member
- Mr. Balaji, Executive Member
- Myself, Dr. Jagan Mohan, Secretary.
The Karikan Nagar representatives (10 gentlemen) put forth a number of objections and concerns which I list here (in no particular order, from memory, others can add):
1. The STP should not function at the current site at any cost, no matter which authority orders or supports it, be it tahsildar, sub-collector or collector. We will oppose it at all costs.
2. The STP will harm the health of our Karikan Nagar people, we had already suffered from dengue and other diseases.
3. You residents of Anugraha are outsiders who have come from elsewhere and are now trying to adversely affect/kill our families living in Karikan Nagar for generations – we will never allow this and will fight it.
4. If we, the representatives compromise on point no 1, even a 10-year boy from Karikan Nagar will slap us with footwear/slippers, so we can never agree to anything other than the point no 1.
5. There can be no other solution, not ready to accept any guarantee, hear to any reasoning, other than shifting the STP.
6. Even if an STP that fulfills all norms and is safe now comes up, what is the guarantee that it will run for the next few years? Chances are that it will run for a few months and then, all the sewage will be let into the river, again we will be sufferers.
7. As evident on the Township Owners Group on WhatsApp, there is no Unity in the Township and only a few support the STP, many are questioning it, so the association will not be able to run the STP.
8. Even the two previous associations (terms) had failed to run the STP, and this present association term won’t last a year. There is already fighting within yourselves and it is at the verge of collapse.
9. Since the STP was closed by us, as your own people rightly pointed out on WhatsApp, you should have taken our permission prior to starting work, then you could have avoided all this expenditure and effort. Now there is no other way but to close the STP.
10. You should abandon this site and build it on another site. The Builder has already given you 22 cents of land by the riverside near the cremation ground, build it there.
11. If that land is not yet transferred, we will talk to the builder on your behalf and get it for you, you can build the STP there and abandon this present site.
12. We can get you as much land as you need elsewhere, we will take responsibility for that, you will have to give up this present site.
13. By building the STP you are condemning us and all our generations to come to suffer from it, we will not allow it at any cost.
14. You are building this STP because we are from poor lower social groups and you don’t care about our welfare.
15. We are affected people. We suffered because of you people letting sewage into the river and we depend on the river for irrigation water, washing and relieving. We will not allow the STP. You may build septic tanks in your own houses.
16. We closed your STP and sealed the pipes, you should come to us.
17. You people are not capable of running the STP, you are not even able to collect maintenance money from all your members, how will you ensure that the cost of running the STP be met? On your groups, we read that you are not paying your workers their salary (Some of our members talking irresponsibly led to this), how can you run the STP?
18. You have designed the STP very well and all that is OK, but without unity in your township you will fail, we cannot monitor the STP working, so we will prevent it from starting.
19. So you people had already decided to inaugurate in March? Let us see how you will do it.
20. We are all solidly united in Karikan Nagar in opposition to the STP at its present place.
In short, the Karikan Nagar representatives main point is that we are not united behind the STP and therefore we will not be able to run it, evident from posts on the Whatsapp, and therefore should be shifted away.
Our counter-arguments were as follows:
1. No need to speak of Karikan Nagar vs Township, we are also natives of the soil, we share the same sanitation and health concerns, germs don’t have borders, when Karikan Nagar was afflicted with Dengue, so was Anugraha as well as many regions in Tamil Nadu.
2. We will look at this issue on panchayat level instead of Karikan Nagar – Anugraha Basis, which will only make it more partisan and divisive, create and exacerbate tensions.
3. Only a very tiny minority of two to three people are creating trouble on Whatsapp, posting unnecessary questions, but the majority are simply minding their own business, leaving these affairs to the association and trusting us to exert effort and do the right thing, and we have their complete trust. Please do not go by what loud troublemakers do, they are not even members of the Association. All of us know that their intentions are merely to disturb and ignore them – You too should not pay them any attention.
4. We understand your fears, empathise with them and absolutely accept them as genuine. We must question our own capability to run the STP in the long run. We have taken some measures to ensure the sustainability of this development and we are happy to share and discuss them. Among the steps: Appointment of qualified STP Operational Technician, Corpus Fund for meeting partial expenses, Insurance of equipment against theft, cyclones, etc. Contingency plans for a breakdown, Warranty for all Motors, Annual Maintenance Contract to ensure immediate repair, storing of replaceable parts that will wear out, preventive maintenance, etc. We also have among our residents, engineers who are trained in water engineering (Retd Water Board Engineers, Project Managers with experience of building and operating THREE STPs, etc), their expertise will be utilised from time to time.
5. Because of well-founded fears, development, however, should not be stopped. That is our core petition.
6. The entire STP will be commissioned only after Pollution Board Clearance and periodically they will inspect the plant and we will be doing daily, weekly, monthly monitoring of the efflux water. Microbiological and other parameters will be tested periodically, recorded and communicated to the Pollution board. We would gladly welcome representatives of Karikan Nagar to be part of our operations monitoring cell to oversee the performance of the STP.
7. The Tahsildar inquired if he can seal the STP if even a drop of water is found ‘infectious’, we answered in the affirmative that he can exercise his powers to seal the STP plant if even a drop of water is found ‘infectious’. We stand by that commitment.
8. We will not let out ANY water, not even a drop into the nearby stream. Engineer Kumar as an expert, explained that we have two main ways of dealing with the water: 1. Water will be sold to industries who have strict limits on drawing groundwater for their uses – this will generate some revenue and the industries will take away the water at their own cost and transport. This practice is on at Mahatma Gandhi Medical College and Research Institute. 2. Water will be piped back to our own township for horticulture – we plan to plant avenue trees and gardens, we will NEED all that water, especially in Summer. Over time, we will even share that water with houses for their irrigation through drip-irrigation tubes.
9. We are conscious of Karikan Nagar resident’s health and will not compromise on their safety. The STP will not jeopardise their health in any way.
10. We have no previous separate association ‘managements’, we are a continuum and the past should not hold the future hostage. Let us look forward for cooperation and we invite Karikan Nagar to be equal stakeholders and partners in the STP. In future, Sepage from Karikan Nagar can also be processed at OUR STP, serving both of our communities. We will ensure the complete satisfaction of Karikan Nagar residents.
11. We will, from time to time, also contribute in many ways to the welfare of Karikan Nagar, in improving their living standards, safety, and livelihood. We will commit some resources for their development too, as part of our community social responsibility and ensure all-round development of the entire panchayat. Anugraha Satellite Township will always be an overall contributor and big supporter of this Panchayat’s wellbeing, not a drain or burden for anyone. We will be generous with both heart and resources and we expect only the generosity of heart from Karikan Nagar. Let us match our generosity and march together.
We will post some documents here shortly.
Where do we go from here:
We will have another peace meeting chaired by the Sub Collector (I quote him: ‘Welcome to the world of negotiations’) and we look forward to resolving this issue to both our communities’ satisfaction. There has been a delay, but that is expected. We are still on schedule since we had made provisions in the project planning for such contingencies.
Let us all prosper.