M A I N   N E W S

Budda Nullah heading for ‘ecological crisis’
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 5
The expert committee constituted by the Punjab State Human Rights Commission (PSHRC) to study the causes and cures of the desecration of Budda Nullah in Ludhiana has termed the situation as an “ecological crisis” and demanded immediate multi-sectoral approach to prevent the human tragedy.

In its report to the Commission, the committee has recommended the establishment of an independent “Budda Nullah Task Force” with executive, legal and punitive authority to coordinate remedial efforts. It has also asked for a law to prevent the irrigation of crops in toxic waters of the Nullah.

On the three sewage treatment plants (STPs) proposed as a solution to Ludhiana’s untreated domestic sewage problem, the committee said they were insufficient to handle the load. “Even when commissioned, their total installed capacity will be 311 MLD - much short of the requisite 150 MGD (750 MLD) plus expansion factor of the increasing population, totalling to about 180 MGD (900 MLD),” observed committee members Dr K.S. Aulakh, Vice-Chancellor, Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana, Dr L.S. Chawla, former Vice-Chancellor, Baba Farid University of Health Sciences, Faridkot, and Dr. Daljit Singh, Principal, Dayanand Medical College, Ludhiana.

Lending credence to The Tribune Special Investigation on the matter, the committee compared the situation in the Nullah to that of the Thames in the early 20th century when unplanned industrial development damaged the river. Set up after the Ludhiana-based International Human Rights Organisation petitioned PSHRC on the matter, the committee studied the factors causing pollution in the once-fresh water stream and blamed Ludhiana’s Municipal Corporation for inaction.

The 208-page report prepared in two months (the committee was formed on October 4) mentions: “It is a grave anomaly to have nil sewage treatment plant for a city of 30 lakh, whereas Mohali and Chandigarh have a functional plant of 45 million gallon per day (MGD) capacity for about 10 lakh people. By the same token, Ludhiana needs STP of at least 150 million gallons (750 MLD) per day plus a realistic expansion factor to count for the rising population.” Members minced no words while saying that the under-construction STPs at Jamalpur and Balloke don’t appear to be ready for operation in the foreseeable future.

The report further details the reasons behind Budda Nullah’s current status. These include discharge of untreated raw sewage leading to microbial and parasitic load, discharge of untreated industrial effluents leading to overload of chemicals and heavy metals at the rate of about 60,000 cubic metres/day, discharge of domestic and industrial solid waste at the rate of about 1.5 kg/capita/day and discharge of hazardous biological waste in the form of dead animals and offal (non-edible portion of slaughtered animals). Industries, with their non-functional effluent treatment plants (ETPs) add to the problem.

About the existing waste disposal system, the committee says: “Solid waste is either being dumped at Jamalpur or Humbran Road and other sites or simply tipped into the Nullah. Even here, basic procedures like trenching and sanitary land fill are not being observed.” This has caused faeco-oral bacterial diseases like cholera, typhoid and gastroenteritis; faeco-oral viral diseases like jaundice, poliomyelitis, gastroenteritis which can assume epidemic proportions; parasitic diseases like amoebic dysentery and serious disorders like cancers, DNA damage, foetal and reproductive defects.

The committee’s recommendations to help the situation include immediate stoppage of discharge of untreated sewage into the Nullah and construction of separate main sewer along the Nullah’s course by the MC. “Sensors should be installed along the Nullah to monitor illegal discharge of hazardous chemicals and industries should be relocated to make the monitoring task easy,” the members recommend.



HOME PAGE | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Opinions |
| Business | Sports | World | Mailbag | Chandigarh | Ludhiana | Delhi |
| Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |