Defunct Bathinda power plant has no sand, says admn on illegal mining claim
Bathinda A day after former Bathinda Akali MLA Sarup Chand Singla alleged, in a video, that widespread sand mining was on in the garb of removal of ash at the defunct Guru Nanak Dev Thermal Plant (GNDTP), the authorities have said that the site has no sand quarry. Singla had alleged that Punjab finance minister Manpreet Badal and his brother-in-law Jaijeet Johal were behind the illegality. Singla had even alleged an attempt on his life, while he was shooting the purported video.
The matter drew widespread attention after Congress MLA from Gidderbaha Amrinder Singh Raja Warring and Congress MP from Ludhiana Ravneet Singh Bittu retweeted videos of the Akali leader levelling direct charges on the state’s ruling political dispensation.
Located on the outskirts of Bathinda city, the defunct power facility has an estimated 2.20 crore tonne of environmentally hazardous fly ash spread over 853 acre. Government-run and private thermal plants provide fly ash for free to three identified sectors for safe disposal.
PSPCL director, generations, Paramjeet Singh said on Monday that no single person, group, or firm has ever been given a contract to remove fly ash kept in ponds for decades.
“As per the Central government’s directives, thermal plants are mandated to dispose of ash. It can be used in manufacturing cement and brick kilns only through a particular mechanical and chemical process. It is also used in highway constructions and ash has no use in any other sector,” he said, adding that as there was no safe disposal method of flyash, it had been dumped in huge ponds for over four decades.
Lehra Mohabbat-based thermal plant DP Garg chief engineer, who also has the charge of Bathinda’s unused power plant, said 56 private agencies involved in cement manufacturing or brick kilns have been authorised to lift ash without any charges.“Bathinda district has no river bed, having sand mine or quarry is out of the question,” he added.
Senior executive engineer of GNDTP Girish Gupta said an average of 30,000-tonne fly ash is taken away every month from the dykes. “Nearly 90% of the stock is lifted by a leading private cement manufacturer. PSPCL facilitates only three sectors, who have a mechanism to use ash,” he said.
BOX OR SUBHEAD
SIT to probe bid on Singla’s life
Bathinda senior superintendent of police (SSP) BS Virk said a special investigation team (SIT) under an SP-rank officer was formed on Monday to probe an alleged bid on the life of SAD leader Sarup Chand Singla. In his complaint, Singla had said that a few people tried to mow him down under an earth-removing machine, when he was filming suspicious activity at GNDTP on Sunday.