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Budda Nullah: Set deadline, says HC
Committee recommends closure of polluting units from April 1
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 20
The Punjab and Haryana High Court has directed the Punjab chief secretary (CS) to set a timeframe to implement the recommendations of the P. Ram Committee set up on the Budda Nullah clean-up project.

Constituted by the state government in October 2006, after the high court took suo moto notice of the Tribune series on the environmental crisis caused by the nullah pollution in Ludhiana, the committee has recommended the notification of Ludhiana's master plan within three months.

It has also recommended closure of all polluting electroplating and dyeing industries in Ludhiana by April 1, if they don't stop discharging effluents into the nullah by March 31. Following the Tribune reports on the issue, the Punjab Irrigation Department has also agreed to release 200 cusecs of fresh water from Sirhind canal into the nullah, which is abysmally low on dissolved oxygen.

Appreciating the report submitted to it recently, the Division Bench comprising Chief Justice Vijender Jain and Justice Rajiv Bhalla directed the Punjab chief secretary to file an affidavit pertaining to the implementation and compliance of all recommendations of the committee by April 30. The court has also directed the state government to "hold regular meetings to ensure that effective steps to deal with the problem are taken in the right earnest".

The committee has recommended a ban on the setting up of new industry and expansion of the existing industry till the master plan is notified. Significantly, the high court has already directed the chief secretary to explain why no master plan has been prepared for Ludhiana, which houses about 4 million persons.

The committee has recommended that all 500 small electroplating and dyeing units be closed by April 1 if they don't transport their effluents to the common effluent treatment plant at the Focal Point, Ludhiana, by March 31. Further, to stop the dumping of solid waste into the nullah, the committee has banned and directed the district administration to impose Section 144 CrPC along the nullah's length in the city.

With the committee observing that the Ludhiana Municipal Corporation is yet to identify and develop proper land-fill sites for the dumping of solid waste, the high court has sought a date-bound schedule from the Ludhiana MC for the said project. The court has also asked the state to take the help of NGOs to remove encroachments from the sides of the nullah and develop a green belt.

Nodal officer for the committee N.S. Tiwana today told The Tribune, "We have already directed the district authorities to demarcate the entire length of the nullah, besides removing solid waste already dumped into it by shifting the same to the designated land-fill sites." 

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