The Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB) has told the Guru Gobind Singh HPCL-Mittal Energy Limited (HMEL) Oil Refinery to stay away from Lasara drain, which is notorious for carrying effluents from industrial units.
Despite the repeated refusals by of the PPCB to allow a pipeline link between the oil refinery and the drain, authorities at the refinery has been lobbying hard to have their way.
Recently, a 20km-long pipeline was laid along the road that connects Rs 18,000-crore refinery project with the Bathinda-Dhabwali road. Lasara flows just half a km from the Bathinda-Dhabwali road.
Pipes have been laid as a part of the irrigation network to supply treated water to farmers for irrigation purpose. However, this network of pipes directly leads to the Lasara drain.
According to the map of the irrigation network prepared by the Punjab drainage department for the oil refinery, pipelines touch Lasara drain. It prompted the PPCB to react and tell the refinery authorities to stay away from the drain.
"The PPCB has strictly told refinery officials not to extend their irrigation network towards the drain. We have told them not to cross the Bathinda-Dhabwali road under any circumstances," said PPCB XEN Nazar Singh.
The refinery authorities had made two requests in the past with the PPCB to allow a pipe line link with the Lasara drain, but to no avail. Farmers, whose land falls within half km of Bathinda-Dhabhwali road and Lasara drain were contacted to give their land.
"Refinery officials and officials of the drainage department had come to us to give the land to lay pipes toward Lasara drain. But at that time we had sown wheat in fields. They had come around two months back. They are expected to come again after the harvest as fields will be clear to lay the pipes," said farmer Sukhpal Singh.
The refinery is the biggest industrial unit in Punjab and it wants to be connected with the Lasara drain. The fresh application by refinery officials has demanded the permission on new grounds.
Refinery is said to have the all arrangements to filter water to be used in the processing of crude oil. This water is proposed to be used within the premises of the refinery for watering plants. Rest of the water will to be used for the purpose of irrigation in the nearby fields.
"If quality of the water produced by the refinery is fine then there will be no problem for the farmers to use this water for irrigating their fields. But PPCB will decide if water is fit for irrigation," said Dalveer Singh Dhaliwal, XEN, irrigation department, Mansa division.
Seeking anonymity, an official in the irrigation department said, "Officials at the oil refinery has a very powerful lobby and PPCB will not be able to stop them for long time to have a pipe link with Lasara drain."