The Lasara drain is again the target of polluting industries, and the Punjab pollution control board (PPCB) is happy to let it be.
After much pleading and protesting with the PPCB, the villagers of Mashana in Bathinda district have come out on the streets to protect the environment
from the polluting actions of BCL distillery nearby. About 10 days ago, when local officials of the PPCB found the unit violating rules, it didn't help villagers get rid of the problem. On Saturday, they protested outside the distillery to make the board act.
Mashana villagers protesting against the BCL distillery installed near their villages on Saturday.Kulbir Beera/HT
The Lasara receives illegal effluents from units along the 255-km-long drain. The Punjab and Haryana high court has allowed only two Barnala factories to discharge water (that too if it's treated) into the drain till 2014. "The discharge from the distillery leaves a foul odour within 2 kilometres of the unit," said Gagandeep Singh, member of the Baba Rattan Sports Club of Mashana.
"Making it worse, the distillery is chucking effluents into the drain with the help of motor pumps and pipes." The factory is a few hundred metres from the water body.
"The unit has a polluted-water tank just near the Lasara, from which they discharge into the drain at night," said Gagandeep Singh. "Its owners are doing every bit to worsen the environmental crisis in the cancer-affected region. They are tampering with a natural source of water."
The distillery doesn't run its water-treatment plant because it increases the company's input cost, Parminder Singh, sarpanch of Mashana village, has alleged. "It's easier for the distillers to just throw the untreated effluent into the Lasara," he said. "It's hard to live near the distillery. We are afraid it will next inject polluted effluent into the ground."
"I sent my report to the higher officials 10 days ago," said Rubby Dhillon, subdivisional officer of the PPCB in Bathinda. "At the distillery, pollution-control norms were violated indeed. We'll take action on further instruction."