M A I N   N E W S

Scotland Scotch Study
They went, saw & returned empty-handed
The only lesson learnt by MLAs: Scotland more stringent
in enforcing pollution checks
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 21
The Vidhan Sabha Pollution Control Committee which had gone to study pollution management in distilleries of Scotland is back. On their return, the panel concludes - surely, what could have been derived at the click of a button -- that the technology to prevent pollution is the same whether it is for scotch or Indian whiskey, only the Scots are more particular about rules.

The committee, which was in Scotland from July 10 to July 17, also maintains that it did not seek permission from the Ministry of External Affairs to visit Scotland. It only requested that the team members be provided with diplomatic visas. The request, however, was denied.

Team member Virsa Singh Valtoha, when questioned today by TNS on the issue, said the Scotland Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) stringently enforced the norms. “They are very particular about how much liquor has to be produced by each distillery and ensure a zero-discharge system everywhere.”

Valtoha said in Punjab, on the other hand, there was no check on the discharge by distilleries, which were discharging pollutants in flowing water as well as fields. In such a situation, there was a need to ensure that the norms were followed stringently, he added.

The committee is apparently peeved with the Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB). Valtoha said the committee had taken samples from in and around distilleries and had also got them checked. “We took the help of technical persons and a PPCB officer was associated with the exercise,” he said, adding that it was strange that the PPCB was now claiming that samples taken by it recently adhered to the specifications. Another committee member Balbir Singh Bath said the committee would summon the PPCB on this issue,

PPCB Member Secretary Babu Ram, however, said an Amritsar-based PPCB officer was the government representative on the committee and had not been deputed by the pollution board. He said the PPCB working was independent of the committee.

Meanwhile, Valtoha when questioned about the practice of holding assembly committee meeting in far off places like Srinagar and Goa said there was a provision for holding meetings outside the Vidhan Sabha premises. He said this facility however should not be misused and meetings should be held outside the assembly only if they fulfilled a purpose.

Committee member Bath claimed that the Scotland trip did fulfil the purpose of giving exposure to elected representatives about the rules and regulations in Scotland about distilleries and the media had unnecessarily insulted the committee.

The committee maintains that the Scottish trip had the permission of Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and that there was no need to take any permission from the MEA. “We only requested the MEA to give us diplomatic visas to facilitate team members on the trip,” Valtoha said.





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