Notwithstanding the state government's claim of keeping stringent checks on violation of pollution control and environmental protection laws in the Baddi-Barotiwala-Nalagarh industrial belt, the practice of dumping solid waste in open places by many factories continues unabated, posing a serious threat to the area's ecology.
The failure to conduct a detailed survey to identify plants discharging hazardous waste, despite the fact that the Central Pollution Control Board had already placed the industrial belt in its list of highly polluted areas, has further compounded the problem.
Besides violating environmental laws, the fact that factories continue to dump industrial waste in the open instead of routing it to the Shivalik solid waste management plant in Majra near Nalagarh for its scientific disposal seems to have defeated the purpose of the Congress-led government's move to safeguard the environment in the state's industrial areas.
The plant was set up five years ago at a cost of around Rs 15 crore to provide services by creating an efficient waste segregation, collection, transportation, and processing and disposal mechanism in conformity with the Municipal Solid Waste (Management & Handling) Rules, 2000.
According to sources, even after 10 years, only 550 industries have started sending their hazardous waste to the plant. The number of such industries is over 2,500. The sources said as per estimates, around 50,000 metric tonnes of hazardous waste was being produced by a large number of factories in the Baddi-Barotiwala-Nalagarh belt, Parwanoo, Solan, Kala Amb, Una, Paonta Sahib and other places every year.
However, the Shivalik solid waste management plant is receiving only around 1,200 metric tonnes of solid waste as against the expected 5,000 metric tonnes every month. The management of the plant is charging Rs 100 per quintal for process the waste.
Here, the information obtained by a local organisation, Himprivesh, from the state environment protection & pollution control board and the Shivalik solid waste management plant presents a different picture.
Sources in the board said only 1,133 units have enrolled and are dumping around 12,000 tonnes of waste at the plant while its officials claimed only 1,100 to 1,200 tonnes of waste were being disposed of by 550 units every month.
"Our group is repeatedly taking up the matter with the authorities of SEPPCB urging them to initiate action and provide information concerning exact number of hazardous waste generating units," said Himprivesh president Jagjit Singh.
Balkishan Sharma, the organisation's general secretary, said a detailed survey should be carried out to identify hazardous waste producing plants.