Crackdown on pollution: NGT panel collects samples from paper mills
The monitoring committee of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) conducted surprise checks at five paper mills in Gaunspur village and surrounding areas on Wednesday.
However, two of the five mills were found closed. Therefore, samples were collected from the treatment plants of the other three paper mills. The panel also collected samples from Buddha Nullah in Gaunspur village.
The committee members, led by the chairman, justice Pritampal Singh (retd), were accompanied by Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB) officials. NGT constituted the monitoring committee to keep a check on the rising pollution in the water bodies of the state.
Panel member Sant Balbir Seechewal said though the mill owners were not dumping waste in the nullah, some were discarding waste in the nearby plots. Samples of sand and waste were collected from the plots. Besides, pictures of the nearby plots were taken.
According to the panel members, while most mill owners were utilising zero liquid discharge (ZLD) treatment process, the condition of the mills reflected that the treatment plants were non-functional.
“More such surprise visits will be conducted. Reports of the samples collected will also be tabled before NGT,” said Seechewal, adding that PPCB officials were told to take regular action against dyeing and washing units for dumping untreated waste in the sewer lines or Buddha Nullah.
‘OWNERS TRIED TO DODGE ACTION’
Seechewal said it appeared that the mill owners were aware of the inspection, as a few mills were found closed and the owners of other mills tried to hide the waste dumped in the plots by pouring sand on it.
However, samples had been collected, and action will be taken if discrepancies were found, he said. “Besides, the PPCB officials concerned will be held responsible, as it is their duty to keep a check on illegal activities of paper mill owners,” Seechewal added.
RESIDENTS COMPLAIN ABOUT RISE IN DISEASES
Seechewal said the residents of Gaunspur village complained that cases of cancer and hepatitis C were on the rise in the area due to polluted water of Buddha Nullah. The residents were told to produce medical reports of patients so that they can be presented before NGT, he added.