Untreated sewage is still being discharged into Ghaggar River and its tributaries in Punjab and Himachal Pradesh, reveals affidavits submitted by both the states to the National Green Tribunal (NGT).
In Punjab, 21 towns of four districts — SAS Nagar (Mohali), Patiala, Sangrur and Mansa — are situated on the banks of Ghaggar, but untreated sewage flows into the river in five towns — Sanaur, Bassi Pathana, Sirhind, Nabha and Sangrur — in the absence of sewage treatment plants.
The Punjab government told the NGT that sewage treatment plants in seven towns — Zirakpur, Mohali, Patiala, Banur, Samana, Sardulgarh and Bhikhi — were already commissioned and construction was on in Patran, Mandi Gobindgarh, Rajpura, Moonak, Sunam, Lehragaga and Khanauri.
The NGT took cognisance of pollution in the Ghaggar in May after request from the National Human Rights Commission that took a suo moto notice of the problem based on media reports.
The hill state of Himachal, from where the river originates, however, claimed that its contribution of pollutants in the water body was lesser as compared to other states. In its reply to the green tribunal, the Himachal government said the water quality of Sukhna Nullah, a tributary of the Ghaggar, was between B and E category, which is considered polluted as per the criteria fixed by the Central Pollution Control Board.
Himachal has cited sewage load of Parwanoo residents as one of the reasons for the Ghaggar pollution, even as it claims that regular monitoring is done to check discharge of effluents by industrial units there.
The affidavit says the deviation in water quality of Ghaggar’s tributary Markanda river, which falls in Sirmaur district of the hill state, cannot be ruled out as civic waste is discharged into it from the unplanned growth of Naraingarh, Shahzadpur, Mullana, Shahabad and Jansa towns in Haryana. It also blames domestic and industrial waste from Haryana as the Markanda confluences with Ghaggar in Panchkula district after travelling 50km from Kala Amb in Sirmaur district.
The tribunal was informed that the government was considering construction of common effluent treatment plants in Parwanoo Kala Amb to reduce the pollution in the Ghaggar.
LAST CHANCE FOR HARYANA, UT
Hearing the case on September 14, the NGT has given last opportunity to both Haryana and the Chandigarh administration to file status report on pollution in Ghaggar within two weeks. The matter is listed for hearing on October 20.
RIVER OF THREE STATES
Stretch: 291 km
Catchment area: 42,200 sq km
Originating source: Markanda river in Himachal’s Sirmaur district, besides Kaushalya river and Sukhna Nullah in Solan district of Himachal
Basin districts: Part of Rupnagar, SAS Nagar (Mohali), Patiala, Sangrur and Mansa in Punjab; Panchkula, Ambala, Kurukshetra, Kaithal, Jind, Hisar and Sirsa in Haryana; Chandigarh; Sri Ganganagar and Hanumangarh in Rajasthan.
Spread of waterborne diseases in the areas situated along the river
Foul smell emitting from the river
Contamination of subsoil water
Chances of damage of crop due to presence of industrial chemical waste