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National Green Tribunal orders shut down of 57 factories in Dera Bassi

The tribunal has directed the Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB) chairman to ensure compliance and file a report on November 13.

punjab Updated: Oct 27, 2018 09:55 IST
Shailee Dogra
Shailee Dogra
Hindustan Times, Mohali
National Green Tribunal,shut down of 57 factories in Dera Bassi,Punjab
(Representative image )

Taking strict note of blatant violation of environmental laws, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has ordered closure of 57 industrial units in Dera Bassi within one week.

“Immediate drastic measures need to be taken, keeping in view the severity of environment degradation, which must have taken place in the area, and damage caused to the human health, flora and fauna and that too for last so many years,” ruled the principal bench of NGT, comprising justice Raguvendra S Rathore and expert member Satyawan Singh Garbyal.

The order further said: “We are of the opinion that direction of the closure of industries which are non-compliant is required to be passed to begin with and they would also be liable for environment compensation.”

The tribunal has directed the Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB) chairman to ensure compliance and file a report on November 13, advocate Karan Jund Mullanpur, who represented the petitioner villagers said.

Karan Jund said the Punjab director general of police (DGP) has been directed to provide protection and assistance to PPCB officials so that the errant industries are closed down within a week. “Apart from this, the electricity and water departments have been told to immediately disconnect supply to these industries,” he said.

Big firms among the defaulters

According to the order, four industrial units — Nectar Life Sciences in Saidpura and Goindi Machines, Taksa Life Science and Essix Biosciences in Focal Point — were found flouting groundwater standards and discharging untreated affluents.

Nectar Life Sciences Limited is a pharmaceutical company manufacturing antibiotics. Firm director HP Singh, who is also the president, operations, said: “We will be filing a representation before the NGT on Monday.”

Goindi Machines, set up in 1996, is into production of high-tech machines used by automotive, defence and general engineering industries.

Other firms set to face the music for various violations include Cepham Milk Specialities Limited that markets its dairy products under the Milktime brand, Federal Agro Industries that supplies buffalo meat and Allychem Laboratories that manufactures chemicals.

Central board had filed report

Nine teams of the Central Pollution Control Board had conducted surprise checks at 101 industries in August 2018. The units were inspecting in two groups — one which are in the Dera Bassi Focal Point and another set located outside Focal Point and operating in violation of prescribed standards.

The teams collected samples from effluent treatment plant, inlet and outlet of the industries and of other effluents being discharged by the industries. The teams had also collected ground water samples from the vicinity to ascertain drinking water parameters, including CoD (chemical oxygen demand ) and presence of heavy metals.

“The teams found glaring violations of environment laws. According to the report, the industrial units are operating without obtaining a valid consent and operating on premises in the name of some other closed unit to give an impression that no industry is working there,” said Karan Jund.

Villagers’ PIL set the ball rolling

In 2011, a public interest litigation (PIL) was filed by Karnail Singh of Issapur village in Dera Bassi on behalf of 12 villages, including Bhankerpur, Issapur, Pragpur, Bakerpur, Ibrahampur, Dhanounani and Bhora villages. They moved the high court, alleging chemically polluted water is being supplied through tubewells.

“The petitioners had said that sewage discharge from factories, flowing into nearby drains, is polluting the groundwater and thereby the tunewell supply,” said Karan Jund.

“I had installed a tubewell for irrigation adjacent to Dhabi Nullah,” said Karnail Singh. “The water coming from the tubewell was chemically polluted owing to the affluents discharged by industries. This is when I decided to move the HC.”

The petition was transferred to the NGT, Delhi, in 2013.

Where’s the treatment plant

The common effluent treatment plant (CETP) that was to facilitate scientific disposal of hazardous waste of Dera Bassi Focal Point industries is yet to see the light of day.

The CETP was to come up on 4 acres at Saidpura village at an estimated cost of ₹60 crore.

In April 2016, its foundation stone was laid by the then Punjab Pollution Control Board chairman.

The plant was to put an end to the problem of effluent discharge from industries in the area while the treated water was to be used for irrigation.

First Published: Oct 27, 2018 09:54 IST