After the groundwater samples collected from the villages in the vicinity of AB Sugars and Distillery Limited failed the potability tests, the Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB) has initiated the process to seal the unit. The distillery, which is based in Randhawa village, is owned by liquor
contractor Ponty Chadha and is said to be the main source of water pollution in the area.
PPCB chairman Ravinder Singh said that water samples collected from the three villages -Randhawa, Bodla and Bercha - have been found positive for the contamination caused due to effluents being discharged by the distillery. "With water samples failing the tests, the board has initiated the process to seal the unit and the same will be done by Tuesday," he said.
The board had issued the clousure notice to the unit on July 19 and Punjab State Power Corporation Limited (PSPCL) was asked to disconnect the power connection to the said unit by July 23. "We are not waiting for the PSPCL's action in this connection. The board on its own has initiated the process to seal the distillery," said Singh.
Set up in 2004, the distillery was given environmental clearance on the condition of zero effluent discharge. It is learnt that only the distillery was functioning, while the sugar mill was lying closed for quite some time.
Interestingly, even as the PPCB officials have ordered PSPCL to disconnect the power connection of the said unit, but as per Powercom records no power connection has been issued to the unit.
Powercom executive engineer Jagmohan Singh, when asked about the PPCB orders, said: "I had received the board's letter requesting for disconnecting the power connection of the distillery unit on July 20. The same day I informed the authorities concerned that the unit doesn't have an electricity connection and it was generating power using turbo generators."
PPCB chairman said it was possible that the unit was generating its own power. "What matters is the end result and board has already started the process to seal the unit," he said.
During the visit of deputy chief minister Sukhbir Badal to the area in the run up to the Sasuya bypoll, the villagers had submitted a memorandum to him demanding action against AB Sugars and Distillery Limited, alleging that the unit was discharging the effluents in the open and Sukhbir had asked the PPCB to look into the matter.