After a series of inspection and raids at various industrial units in Ludhiana this year, the Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB) has suddenly stopped this exercise due to unknown reasons raising eyebrows of many.
As the board has no plans of inspection in the near future, insiders believe that there could be an inside story behind the earlier raids immediately after the results of Lok Sabha elections in May this year in which SAD candidate Manpreet Singh Ayali lost at the hands of Congress’ Ravneet Singh Bittu.
In June, the PPCB had raided several electroplating and dyeing units in the city and even raised questions over the operations of Common Effluent Treatment Plant (CETP) at Focal Point which is managed by the Ludhiana Effluent Treatment Society (LETS) that has several industrialists as its office-bearers.
Minister for industry and commerce Madan Mohan Mittal on June 13 had openly stated during an industrial meet in Ludhiana that he could not help the industry as the business community supported “Congress candidate Ravneet Singh Bittu during the parliamentary polls and not the SAD candidate”.
The statement was criticised by the industry and the opposition Congress took it as an opportunity to attack the SAD and it alliance partner BJP.
However, the inspections and raids by the PPCB on industrial units flouting environmental norms came to a standstill and the board was now not planning any further action against the offenders.
Sources said being a major industrial city, the PPCB should hold inspections at industrial units that keep pollutants in the open from time to time. “Lack of inspections by the PPCB is something serious,” the sources added.
Ludhiana has also been declared as a critically polluted area by the union ministry of environment of forests. The city has about 750 electroplating, phosphate and galvanising industries that have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the CETP, Focal Point, for lifting and treatment of their effluents. Besides, 330 pickling (metal surface treatment) industries in the city have signed an MoU with the CETP for reprocessing effluent from pickling industries.
Rajasthan had been complaining for the past some years that the pollutants released by the industry in Buddha Nullah, a stream that meets the Sutlej, had caused cancer in northern parts of Rajasthan as the waters of Sutlej are collected in Harike lake and used for irrigational purpose by the state.
PPCB chief environmental engineer Gulshan Rai said, “The inspections are a regular process, which are carried out by the board from time to time.”
When asked whether any inspections or raids were on the cards, Rai said so far there was no such plan.