No legal record of cases against pollution violators

SANGRUR: There’s no legal record of any action taken by several regional offices of the Punjab Pollution Control Board against industrial units across Punjab, reveals an RTI query.

Parvesh Sharma

Tribune News Service

Sangrur, May 21

There’s no legal record of any action taken by several regional offices of the Punjab Pollution Control Board against industrial units across Punjab, reveals an RTI query.

The board has 12 regional offices in the state. In violation of the environmental norms, several offices have failed to maintain a record of the action taken against such units from 2012-17.

“The information sought by you is not available in the records of this office,” said the Sangrur office in a reply to the RTI application filed by activist Brish Bhan Bujrak.

Bujrak wrote a letter to Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh on Monday, seeking action against the board officers concerned for “destroying” the records.

Bujrak had sought to know the number of industrial units in each district, the ones that violated norms and the legal action taken against them. But the offices in Ludhiana, which has maximum number of industrial units, Jalandhar, Amritsar, Hoshiarpur, Patiala, Fatehgarh Sahib, SAS Nagar and Sangrur confirmed that they had no such record available.

The Hoshiarpur regional office, which controls 773 units, said: “We do not have a record of the industrial units that violated norms from 2012-17 or action taken against them.”

The Fatehgarh Sahib office gave the same reply, while the Amritsar office said the application was not clear. “The public information officer is bound to supply the sought information,” a reply from the Jalandhar office read.

“It’s subjective in nature. No such record in such form is available,” said all three regional offices in Ludhiana, which controls 366 water polluting and 428 air polluting units.

However, details show that the board authorities in the Faridkot regional office had acted against 25 industrial units in the district, 39 in Moga, 31 in Fazilka and 30 in Ferozepur for violating norms between 2012 and 2017. The Bathinda regional office is yet to reply.

Bujrak alleged that board officers were deliberately destroying the record of violators to help them. “If they do not maintain any record of violators then what is the purpose of conducting raids?” he asked.

Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB) Chairman Kahan Singh Pannu said: “We have all the information but not in the format the RTI applicant has sought.”

Protesting farmers hold up traffic

Abohar: Voicing anger over the supply of contaminated Beas water through the Gang canal, farmers on Monday blocked the highway near Sadhuwali village. This led to inconvenience to hundreds of commuters. Activists of the BJP, AAP and CPM also joined the protest, raising anti-government slogans. They said no action was taken against the erring industrialists and officials. CPM former MLA Het Ram Beniwal said the National Green Tribunal had pulled up the government and the Punjab Water Pollution Board twice, but they did nothing to check the discharge of wastewater into the river.  Later, the farmers gheraoed the staff of waterworks in the industrial area for storing contaminated canal water. The staff pacified the protesters, assuring them to empty the tanks. Water Supply Superintending Engineer VK Jain said drinking water would be supplied only once in 48 hours till the situation improves. Fazilka DC Isha Kalia visited Alamgarh, Balluana, Chanan Khera and Dangarkhera villages and got water samples tested. OC

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