The management of a Dasuya-based distillery has alleged that they had been facing heavy losses as the dsitrict administration was putting pressure on Punjab Pollution Control board (PPCB) to not issue clearances for running its operations.
It also claims that the unit was complyinh with all previous directions issued by the board.
AB Sugars Ltd (distillery unit), located at at Randhawa village in Dasuya tehsil, Hoshiarpur, vice-president Surinder Malik told HT, "In June 2012, on the complaint of residents of villages Berchha and Bodlan, the PPCB chairman issued directions u/s 33-A of the Water (Prevention & Control of Pollution) Act, 1974, vide letter No. CEE/2012/3/062 dated July 18, 2012 and instructed us to close the manufacturing process of the unit till the monsoons ended. We were also asked to follow some short-term and long-term processes to ensure that we followed all PPCB norms.
"We immediately closed operations and complied with all the short-term measures, such as checking all leaking points to control ground water contamination, installed an additional piezometer at different locations, engaged a consultant of repute for ground water study, started providing safe drinking water to the villagers through tankers. We put up additional thick plantation around the bio-composting yard, developed a proper area for ash disposal, installed SPM level analyser at air stack to check air pollutants, installed a CCTV camera at desired locations and planned long-term measures also," Malik said.
"After its satisfaction, the PPCB restored the operation of the industry on October 19, 2012, and allowed 50% capacity of the unit to start till January 31, 2013.
The industry had also obeyed these instructions and ran at less than 50% capacity up to October 18, 2012.
On October 19, we shut the unit to carry out modifications suggested by the board. We have also taken some long-term meaures as suggested by the PPCB," claimed Malik.
The company took the services of consultants, NEER, to remove ground water contamination and as per their reports water within radius of 500 m has been affected due to leakages.
He claimed to have installed four shallow tubewells at two strategic locations from where contaminated ground water was pumped out.
He claimed that recently, some villagers complained to Hoshuiarpur DM that the industry was dicharguing its effluents illegallt, which was baseless he claimed.
Without proper inquiry, the SDM Dasuya issued a noptice to them Section 133 CrPC on February 1, 2013 on the instructions of district magistrate Hoshiarpur and had issued the same directions vide their notice dated February 28, he alleged.
He added that the same instructions had been issued by PPCB under Section 33-A of Water (Prevention & Control of Pollution) Act, 1974, and the industry was complying with the same, Malik claimed.
"The industry's lagoon has a storage capacity of 30 days. We have been closed since October 18, 2012," he said.
"All steps have been taken to ensure that we are following the law. We applied with PPCB for to extend its consent, which expired on January 31, 2013. However, PPCb is dithering on the suggestion of Hoshiarpur administration and we are unnecessarilty being harassed. We are sufferign losses and even the government is losing revenue as we are non-operation. We paid taxes to the tune of Rs. 14.36 crore, Rs. 15.80 crore and Rs. 10.45 crore, respectively," Malik said.
He claimed that state government must intervene to ensure that the industry is operational to preserve jobs.
However, Hoshiarpur deputy commissioner, Masnavi Kumar said, "All the claims of distillery management are wrong. The distillery has been violating several clauses of various laws since its launch. After going through the technicalities involved in this matter, we had issued the directions. The distillery has to follow the guidelines relating to discharge of effluents, digging bore-wells as specified. It has been violating laws repeatedly."