Sirhind waters to help lower Buddha Nullah pollution level
The Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB) has accorded administrative approval for release of 200 cubic feet per second (cusecs) of fresh water daily from the Sirhind canal to the Neelon drain to bring down the pollution levels in the Buddha Nullah.
As per the plan, an outlet from the canal will be made to the Neelon drain, which runs parallel to it. The water released into the drain will then meet the nullah near Koomkalan village, around 27km from the city.
The ₹5.7-crore project, which will be executed by the department of water resources, will commence in December and is expected to complete by November 2020.
The cost of the project will be borne jointly by the PPCB and the Ludhiana municipal corporation (MC) under the Smart City project.
As per officials of the PPCB, the project will ultimately help in reducing the pollution in Buddha Nullah and the Sutlej.
As per the action plan for Clean River Sutlej 2019, prepared by the Directorate of Environment and Climate change, department of science and technology, of the 2,423 industrial units in Punjab polluting the Sutlej, the majority, 2,028, are in Ludhiana, including 228 dyeing and 1,649 electroplating and surface treatment units which directly or indirectly release untreated waste in Buddha Nullah.
Ludhiana deputy commissioner Pradeep Kumar Agrawal said since the nullah is a non-perennial water body, it does not have sufficient assimilation capacity to achieve Class B quality water even after implementation of measures.
Class A quality water is filtered and fit for drinking. Class B is fit for washing and bathing purposes.
“At least 200 cusecs from Sirhind canal are needed to achieve Class B quality of water in the nullah,” Agrawal said.
The payment of ₹2.8 crore on part of the Punjab Pollution Control Board will be released to the department of water resources in four instalments as under subject to the certification of utilisation of funds by the department.
While the first instalment of ₹87.5 lakh has been released, the second and third instalments of ₹75 lakh each and the fourth of ₹50 lakh will be payable after four-month interval as the project proceeds.
How project took shape
The Directorate of Environment and Climate Change had notified the Clean River Sutlej 2019 on January 31 this year.
As per the plan, there was a need to release at least 200 cusecs from Sirhind canal to achieve the required quality of water meant for organised outdoor bathing in the nullah.
A monitoring committee constituted by the National Green Tribunal (NGT) had directed the department of water resources to finalise the proposal for release of into the nullah through the Neelon drain.
During the fifth meeting of the committee held on July 23 this year, the PPCB and the Ludhiana MC had jointly agreed to fund the project on 50:50 basis.
The matter is also being reviewed by the river rejuvenation committee (RRC) constituted in accordance with the mandate of the order passed by the NGT.
PPCB , MC tussle
Over the years, the PPCB has been blamed for not doing much to reduce the pollution levels of the Sutlej. In June this year, the PPCB had imposed a bank guarantee of ₹75 lakh on the MC for failing to run its three sewage treatment plants (STPs) properly. This was followed by a court case in August first week filed by PPCB against MC officials including mayor Balkar Sandhu and MC commissioner Kanwalpreet Kaur under the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act alleging that MC was releasing untreated sewage waste from the Jamalpur STP into the nullah.