Contrary to the state government's claim of keeping stringent checks on violators of pollution control and environmental protection laws in the Baddi-Barotiwala- Nalagarh industrial belt, the uncontrolled and unscientific dumping of fly ash along the banks of the Ratta, Sarsa and Balad rivers is posing a serious threat to the water quality of the rivers.
Perturbed over the intransigent attitude of State Environment Protection & Pollution Control Board (SEPPCB) officials in not initiating needed action against the offenders, elected representatives of 'panchayati raj' institutions, villagers including of members of the Baddi based NGO, Him Parivesh Paryavarn Sarankshan Sanstha (HPPSS), said Thursday the matter would be taken up with Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh.
SEPPCB officials have time and again been claiming that it had asked the management of industrial units to provide tertiary level of treatment of effluents in the Baddi- Barotiwala- Nalagarh industrial belt to conserve the region's ecology.
The authorities had been claiming the level of water pollution in the river is within limit and the officials concerned are regularly monitoring the pollution control systems of all industrial units by conducting inspections on regular basis.
The fresh incident of dumping of fly ash has came to light in Mallpur panchayat's Ratta river where a corrugated box manufacturing company was openly dumping its fly ash without any fear of being intercepted.
Besides, other industrial units have also been dumping industrial waste on the river banks by violating pollution control and environmental laws in the area. Villagers and elected panchayat representatives said dumping fly ash and solid waste into the river, besides polluting the river water, was further polluting the natural water sources of Malku, Majra, Chunari, Kishnpura and Harraipur villages.
“The dumping of industrial waste fly ash by some industrialists in the open and along the Sarsa, Balad and Ratta rivers is not only polluting the river water but also increasing air pollution in the industrial belt,” said HPPSS chairman Jagjit Singh Dukhiya. He said the issue was taken up several times with the board's officials but no effective measures had been taken to check dumping of fly ash and solid waste in the area.
Fly ash is being generated by factories in Baddi and Barotiwala using paddy husk to operate their boilers.
“We'll launch a major public awareness campaign against the board officials concerned if the illegal practices of certain industrial units are not checked within a fortnight,” said HPPSS general secretary BK Sharma.
Though SEPPCB's Baddi executive engineer was not available for comment, an official seeking anonymity said the board has planned to identify some specific locations for dumping fly ash. “Besides, owners of the industrial units concerned have been asked to dump the ash in a scientific manner,” he added.