M A I N   N E W S

Bathinda refinery a nightmare for 12 Sirsa villages
Sushil Manav
Tribune News Service

Sirsa, July 13
Guru Gobind Singh Refinery, a unit located at Kanakwal village of Bathinda district of Punjab, is proving a nightmare for residents of nearly 12 villages of Dabwali Assembly segment falling under Kalanwali sub division of Sirsa as the heavy smoke coming out of it is causing grave health problems for the residents.

Hundreds of residents of these villages are getting treatment for asthma, cough, eye infections and allergic conditions, but there is no one to listen to their woes as the Punjab government, it seems, does not owe them any explanation while government of their own state too, is not doing anything to address their problems.

At the moment, villagers are having a temporary respite from the pollution as the refinery owned by Hindustan Mittal Energy Limited, a joint venture of the Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited (HPCL) and Mittal Energy Investment Private Limited, Singapore – a Laxmi Niwas Mittal group company, has been shut down for two months due to repair works after a blast in its vacuum gas oil (VGO) unit on June 21.

"Splinters measuring about one feet and above fell in our village causing panic among the villagers. Luckily, no one was injured," said Harvinder Gill, a private medical practitioner at Hassu, a village in Haryana whose boundaries begin from the four walls of the unit.

Kanakwal situated near Punjab’s borders with Haryana is closer to Hassu, Asir, Norang, Desu, Tigri and some other villages of Sirsa. The people of these villages allege that air pollution has made their life a hell.

The villagers have been complaining of breathing problems and swollen, red and watery eyes.

The villagers allege that most of them were using inhalers for breathing problems and make regular visits to the doctors because of the allergic reactions.

“The air has become so poisonous that we are not able to sit in the open. We do not allow our children to play in the open," said Narender Singh, sarpanch of Hassu village in Sirsa.

Dr Bhushan Garg, Senior Medical Officer at Community Health Centre, Odhan, said he received a large number of patients suffering from chest infection and other allergic conditions from Hassu, Desu, Chatha, Asir, Tigri and Norang villages.

Even some cases of cancer have also been reported from these villages, though he said he was not sure whether refinery pollution was the reason for such cases or not.

Interestingly, the Punjab government has initiated process to relocated residents of Kanakwal village to some other places in the state, but there is no one to listen to the woes of those living in Haryana villages, though they are equally affected by the problem.

Health hazard

  • Life has become a nightmare for people of nearly 12 villages of Dabwali Assembly segment
  • Heavy smoke coming out of Bathinda refinery has become a health hazard.
  • Residents of these villages are getting treatment for asthma, cough, eye infections and allergic conditions
  • There is no one to listen to their woes





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