The Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB) as well as the Ludhiana municipal corporation (MC) have failed to address the problem of rising pollution in the Buddha Nullah in city that has caused scare among residents of southern Punjab and the neighbouring state of Rajasthan due to increase in diseases because of utilisation of polluted water of the stream.
While the PPCB has failed to take action against the erring industries in Ludhiana that discharge intoxicants and pollutants in the stream, the MC has also not been able to stop re s i dents f ro m di s charging domestic waste in the nullah, making it highly polluted.
As the Buddha Nullah merges with the Sutlej river, whose water is collected in Harike Lake and used for irrigation and other purposes in souther n part of Punjab and Rajasthan. People have also complained about the deteriorating quality of water being received from Harike Lake to the Punjab government.
The role of PPCB has largely remained confined to issuing notices, especially to the dyeing and electroplating industry in the city. In January, the board started a special drive against industries that were discharging pollutants in the nullah but the drive came to an end after political pressure and lack of will of higher officials of the PPCB.
It has been learnt that a total of 107 dyeing units were visited in January, of which 26 were found major violators on counts of non-operation of Ef fluent Treatment Plants and 34 were found violators on minor counts such as for providing water meters and records. Samples of 32 industries were collected and sent to laboratories.
Surprise visits of electroplating industries were also conducted on January 14, and 59 industries were visited out of which 17 were found major violators.
However, the PPCB failed to take any severe action against such industries due to which people in the affected regions were developing different diseases, including cancer. Underground water in the areas from which Buddha Nullah passes has also become polluted.
PPCB chief environmental engineer Gulshan Rai said inspections were a routine process of the board. “Notices are sent to the industries flouting norms. Water and sewerage connections of the defaulting industries are also being disconnected.”
He, however, could not tell as to what action had been taken against those industries that were found violating norms in January this year.
Dyeing industry owners have been crying foul and claiming that dyeing units were not the major cause of pollution in Buddha Nullah but domestic sewerage connections were.
President of Ludhiana Dyeing Industries’ Association Ashok Makkar said it was mostly the domestic connections that were polluting the stream. “Buddha nullah has a major pollutant in the form of domestic waste outlets. Authorities have been charging the industries of polluting the stream that was not true,” added Makkar.
He said at present, there were a total of three STPs that were not enough for the total capacity of what Ludhiana produced daily.
MC’s joint commissioner AS Sekhon said both industries and domestic discharge in Buddha Nullah was a cause of pollution. “We are trying to close the domestic outlets that were discharging waste in the nullah,” said Sekhon.