Rigzin Spalbar, Ex-CEC, LAHDC, Leh: Prior to the implementation of the ongoing project, there was Greater Leh master plan with the cost of ₹500 crore which covered main Leh town including Chushot and Phyang and other neighbouring villages. But it took many years and the Government of India didn’t sanction the fund on time. On the other hand, the numbers of visitors increased due to some movies shot in Ladakh and it built up pressure on Leh main town. There were no drinking water facilities and drainage system in Leh town. The historical places and the streets were messed up but the villages included in the Greater Leh plan were not in immediate need of a sewerage system and facilities but the main Leh town was.
So in 2010, I followed up the revised project and lessen or excluded the area which is not in immediate need and focused on Leh main town. In 2013, the project Urban Infrastructure Development Scheme for Small and Medium Towns (UIDSSMT), worth ₹217.00 crore got sanctioned. In 2014, the project work began but due to Kalachakra and peak season hours, the work was slowed down.
The survey for the project was conducted in 2008 by Tetra Tech, a Delhi based company who was then engaged as a consultant, after which WAPCOS was engaged. WAPCOS is one of the leading government agencies working all over the world and to engage them was to make the project technically sound and also to provide exposure and experiences among local engineers.
An MOU was signed between WAPCOS and Hill Council to work as a consultant for the project. In addition, WAPCOS promised to bring ₹3000 crores of projects to Leh within 3 to 5 years for various projects.
Regarding unconnected households in this project, the new settlements have increased in a very short period which was not there during the 2008 survey. Now the new project should be prepared in order to connect them.
The project can be said successful if WAPCOS will supervise the work till the completion. The STP will be solarised to work all round the year. This project has been approved by the centre and state government, so we the layman cannot say whether it is successful or not because we don’t have technical knowledge and expertise in this matter.
Without developmental works, we cannot develop our town and it is natural that along with developmental works there will be some inconveniences. But it seems that there is a lack of planning in work execution and coordination among the concern departments. About ongoing developmental works, there are no sign boards and instructions which lead to traffic congestion and inconveniences among the commuters. The winters or February in Ladakh is very mild this year; all kind of digging can be done in winter. These are the minor things which should be there in order to ease the public.
It is a successful project but it depends upon the execution of works, the road can be seen whether it is perfect or not but sewerage is something which we cannot see until and unless the water flow without any blockages.
Facilities and technical things should be properly executed in order to make the project successful. The important thing to make the sewerage system success is the proper discharge of water.\r\n
• Coordination among concerned department is important.
• Periodical review of the project should be carried out by stakeholders.
• Proper instruction and sign boards are important in order to minimize the traffic due to ongoing works.
• Taking the suggestion from the cross section people and people of the same localities is important prior to the execution of work.
• Technical flaws should be rectified in an organised manner for the success of the project.
Tashi Motup Kau, President All Ladakh Hotel and Guesthouses Association: The heavy influx of tourism leads to a growing number of guesthouses and hotels with flush toilet system and heaps of garbage.
Today we are adopting a flush toilet system with no sewerage treatment plant, thus ending up contaminating the groundwater and streams. The garbage disposed of can be witnessed but there is no comparison and measure for the groundwater which is being polluted. The situation will get worse if we don’t take appropriate action at the right hour.
With the need of sewerage system and treatment plant in Ladakh to treat the wastewater, the work for sewerage system facility has been carrying out from the past two years. If this gets completed we can have a proper plan city with fewer problems.
The Guesthouse and Hotel registration have not been renewed for the last three years because the tourism department has asked for an STP for each hotel and guesthouses which is impossible. So, I met Stanzin Tsepal in Bengaluru who is working with BORDA Company and while interacting with him, he decided to work on FSTP in Ladakh and with the help of LAHDC, Leh within a very short period of time BORDA company came to Ladakh to work on it.
FSTP is a project through which the sludge and wastes are being sucked out through a Vehicle from the toilet and treat it. This is the best method to ease the contamination of underground water. The project was started a few days back and they are collecting the waste from hotels and guesthouses. So with the coming of the sewerage treatment plant, all kind of wastewater will be discharged and treated properly which can be used further for other purposes.
With the introduction of the Sewerage Treatment Plant, the underground water will remain clean and the treated water can be reused. Today, bottled water is used by tourists but in the coming years, we could prove that our water is clean and pure so the consumption of mineral water will be reduced. This will also help in reducing pollution and garbage.
The famous destination Shimla faced the problem due to lack of sewerage system. The water got contaminated and spread diseases among people. But later, the need was felt to improve the system and now they have pure drinking water everywhere. The same can happen in Ladakh if we don’t take step towards prevention before it gets too late.
The ongoing works of sewerage system create inconveniences for all but there is a need to cooperate in order to accomplish it.
Change is inevitable so everything should go with change and so is the flush toilet in Ladakh. In the past, we used the local composed toilet because we have more agriculture land and the wastes are being used for the field as manure. But today, we don’t own much of agriculture land within the Leh city because of development in the tourism sector. If we use the local composed toilet, we will face the problem with disposal. However, the rural areas can maintain the local one instead of the flush toilet.
The sewerage system and STP should be properly hand over for construction to the experts who know the geographical condition of Ladakh. And when it gets completed it should be run for years by the same experts so that they can check and regulate the system.
• Avoiding contamination of underground water is important which can be done through STP.
• It can help minimize the consumption of mineral bottle water as streams will be clean enough for drinking purposes after the successful completion of STP.
• FSTP is one of the successful projects which can work for the unconnected household under the present sewerage system.
• People’s cooperation is important in order to complete the project.
• To conserve water, one can have STP in their hotels and guesthouses through which the treated water can be used for other purposes.