Zira factory row: CPCB hints at reverse boring to dispose of contaminated water
The Central Pollution Control Board suspects that a private liquor factory at Zira in Ferozepur district was involved in injecting contaminated water into the ground through reverse boring
The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) suspects that a private liquor factory at Zira in Ferozepur district was involved in injecting contaminated water into the ground through reverse boring.
The central agency drew this conclusion in its report submitted to the National Green Tribunal (NGT) on May 19 after water analysis from two borewells located on the premises of Malbros International Private Limited, an alcohol-making unit in Mansurwal village of Zira in Ferozepur, found high concentration of heavy metals and other chemicals.
Though the factory authorities claimed that it is a ‘zero-liquid discharge’ unit, wastewater was being pumped into the ground through borewells.
Experts say boring is done to lift underground water while reverse boring is a concept in which a deep trench is drilled in the ground not to draw water but to dispose it of. In reverse boring, soak pits are connected with borewell through which the wastewater gets disposed of and gets mixed with underground water and pollutes it, added experts.
Chandigarh-based regional directorate of the CPCB said a field survey found that water of these “two borewells had disproportionate colour, chemical oxygen demand and high concentration of heavy metals that indicates of reverse boring of wastewater in a particular zone tapped in these borewells”.
The report suggests “further investigation to establish a contaminated zone and take remedial action”.
A team of CPCB and Central Groundwater Board (CGWB) visited Ferozepur in February for a field inspection and sample collection for three days. The move came after Congress MP from Khadoor Sahib Jasbir Singh Gill wrote to the Union ministry of environment and forest on December 23, 2022, accusing the liquor factory of causing ecological degradation by dumping toxic waste through borewells on its factory premises.
Owned by liquor baron and former Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) MLA Deep Malhotra, the alcohol-making unit has been shut since July 26 last year after protests by villagers and farmer unions.
“Representatives of the factory claimed that they have permission for four borewells, but no details were provided. It also failed to share the date of installation and assembly drawings of borewells on the premises to know their depth and zone tapped. In spite of follow-up, details are still not shared,” the CPCB apprised the apex green court.
No permission was taken from the CGWB or the Punjab Water Regulation and Development Authority (PWRDA) for these borewells and it needs “further investigation”, the report said.
“According to guidelines, the distance between two borewells should be 200 meters but the factory had two such bores at a distance of a few meters on its premises. It shows the intentions of the factory authorities,” pointed out the CPCB report.
In February, a team led by the CPCB collected samples from 29 tubewells in the factory and eight nearby villages and found that the water contained heavy metals and traces of chemicals much higher than the permissible limits.
“It renders the water unfit for drinking. High total dissolved solids (TDS) and sulphate concentration may be the outcome of industrial activity,” the report reads.
According to the report, water samples from Mansurwal, Mahinawala Kalan and Ratol Rohi villages had higher limits of metals and heavy metals.