The city of Ludhiana is facing a health hazard, with the authorities failing to ensure that carcasses of animals lying in a highly decomposed state are lifted. The news comes amid growing concern over a possible epidemic in the wake of novel coronavirus cases in the country and the urgency to prevent it from spreading. The reason ostensibly for this mess is that the skinners have refused to do their job, in protest against the notices by the Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB) to five units and imposition of Rs 11.40 crore as environmental compensation charges on them for allegedly discharging effluents from hadda rori — place where animals are skinned — near Ladhowal, into the Sutlej. The action came after an inspection by the National Green Tribunal, which then submitted its recommendations to the PPCB.
With the city home to nearly a thousand dairies that supply milk to its residents, the disposal of animal waste remains a problem. The PPCB had asked the skinners to make arrangements for the disposal of effluents as the site is located on the banks of the Sutlej and is outside the municipal limits. Ludhiana already sees a discharge of untreated waste from sewage treatment plants, effluents from dyeing units, besides industrial waste, first into the Budha Nullah, and then into the river. The hadda rori, in addition to causing water pollution, is also responsible for the stench on the stretch adjoining the NH-1. Last year, the Punjab and Haryana High Court had asked for the shutting down of all leather tanneries in Jalandhar till they abided by the norms for the emission or discharge of environmental pollutants. There too, the setting up of a common effluent treatment plant had lagged behind.
Waste disposal has been a problem in Punjab, with demands for a management plant acquiring political dimensions as residents in nearby areas oppose it, while civic body officials are in a quandary over its implementation. The matter should be resolved soon. Covid, SARS and MERS have a transmission history from animals to humans. There is no room for complacency.
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