The project of making solid waste treatment plant (SWTP) close to the residential area on the Mansa road here is almost in danger of being trashed.
The national green tribunal (NGT) based in New Delhi has directed the Punjab pollution control board and the local complainants to collect separate samples of the groundwater near the project site and send over to it for analysis. Challenging the clearance that the state-level environment impact assessment authority (SEIAA) gave in September last year to the state's first integrated municipal solid waste management plant on the Mansa road here, local people had filed a petition before the NGT on December 20.
Two days ago, a team from the PPCB collected samples of underground and stream water from points near the site. Local people have hired a water-testing agency to do the job. They have also submitted a PPCB letter to the SEIAA in the NGT court. The letter, written in the initial stage, opposed the SWTP project at the present site near a residential area.
Later, the PPCB gave environmental clarence to the plant that was to get waste from 18 urban bodies (Abohar, Bathinda, Budhlada, Bareta, Bhikhi, Sardulgarh, Malout, Gidderbaha, Rampura Phul, Bhucho Mandi, Goniana, Maur, Raman, Kotfatta, Sangat, Mansa, Talwandi Sabo, and Tapa).
It was during a hearing of the case on March 7 that the NGT had asked the PPCB as well as the complainants to submit the water samples by April 1, two days before the next hearing. The NGT order has come as a blow to the local municipal corporation and rekindled the hope that it might shift the plant.
As opposed to the rule that any waste treatment plant must be at least 20 kilometres from the nearest airport or flight centre to avoid accidents because of scavenger birds hitting the aircraft, the Bathinda SWTP will be only 7.5 km from the Bhisiana air force station.
On the Internet, the plant's distance from the air force station is shown to be 20.3 km, which is inaccurate.
Residential colonies of Joga Nagar, Harbans Nagar and Nacchattar Nagar are within 100 metres of the site, but on papers mentioned to be beyong 5 km; while rules require the project to be at least 500 metres from the nearest residential area.
The canal department has objected to the project; a distributory passes near the site and the department fears pollution of the water being used for irrigation.