The big claims made by the Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB) on the reduction in the pollution levels, during the past five years, at industrial hub Ludhiana by as much as 50% have taken a serious beating as around 18 manufacturing firms at Focal Point Phase 5, 6 and 7 have been found discharging hazardous toxic liquid and solid waste in open.
To corroborate the findings, HT team visited the area and found that an open space at Focal Point, Phase 4 and 5, which has a presence of over one and a half dozen manufacturing units, including tyre making, bicycle chain making firm, iron rod firm and nut-bolt firms, was filled with untreated poisonous water.
Sources said discharging toxic water in open has been going on unabated for many years now, while the PPCB officials have been only mute spectators to such violations. One of the manufactures whose unit falls under the green category in the area revealed that PPCB officials see it as a money making enterprise and the errant owners of the firms bribe the officials at regular intervals (3-4 months). Environmentalist Balbir Singh Seechewal lambasted the errant officials and their passive approach to contain water pollution.
He said, “There are designated Effluent Treatment Plants (ETPs) installed at various locations in Focal Point area where electroplating as well as other liquid waste producing units need to treat their water before releasing it in sewers. Owing to poor sewerage system in industrial area, releasing untreated water directly chokes the sewer and after overflowing water gets collected on land.”
“The manufacturing units need to carry the effluents to their respective treatment plants by tankers to get it treated. PPCB officials need to take a serious view of the issue and must resolve it on priority,” said Seechewal.
Badish Jindal, National Productivity Council vice-chairman, said, “It’s been decades now since majority of Focal Point area’s sewerage system was overhauled. As a result water either from the residential areas or that discharged by industries often comes to the surface. Installing Sewerage Treatment Plants (STPs) at many places in industrial area where liquid waste is discharged is the solution to the problem.”
He added that despite being well aware about the menace and its impact on environment, authorities’ lack of seriousness could be understood as owners of these units bribed them.
Ranjan Lal, one of the slum dweller living nearby, fears that with the ongoing summer season, the polluted stagnant water loaded with (chemical) content poses tremendous health risks for him and his family members.
He said, “Water polluted with heavy metallic content and solid waste by these firms chokes the sewer on several occasions.”
Manpreet Chatwal, chairman, state PPCB, said, “I will depute the area official concerned to check the area and if manufacturing units are found discharging untreated water in the open, we will take strict punitive action against them.”