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Posted at: Dec 7, 2018, 1:54 AM; last updated: Dec 7, 2018, 1:54 AM (IST)

Probe role of those who gave NOC: Seechewal

Molasses spill at Kiri Afghana: Says no to providing clearance to industry 50m from river
Probe role of those who gave NOC: Seechewal
Sant Balbir Singh Seechewal visits Beas river at Sultanpur Lodhi . Tribune Photo: Malkiat Singh

Aparna Banerji

Tribune News Service

Sultanpur Lodhi, Dec 6

Environmentalist Balbir Singh Seechewal, presiding over a meeting of the supervising committee, formed by the National Green Tribunal (NGT), to scrutinise the reports of different departments in the case of Chadha Sugar Mill, said action should be initiated against all the departments which gave an NOC (No Objection Certificate) to the mill, to set up its functions, so close to the river.

While the industries department remained conspicuous by its absence, the environmentalist said they will now be directed to present their case directly in court, since they failed to show up for the meeting.

While the environmentalist’s ouster and reinstatement as PPCB member – in the state – had set the state abuzz in the past few days, it was also speculated that his role as a member of the NGT committee looking into the Kiri Afghana molasses spill – was also one of the reasons for his ouster.

Speaking to The Tribune after holding his first NGT meet following the ouster, Seechewal said, “During the meeting yesterday, no one from the industries department turned up. Earlier also, we have been calling them. Now, we shall ask the functionaries to appear in court.”

“While the officials of the forest and wildlife departments have presented their case and also gave proper presentations on the issue, the wildlife department shall also be submitting a report on the loss to the river, the damage to wildlife and to any of the species which have not survived the molasses spill onslaught. The problem is also that none of the departments have any previous records regarding the previous presence of wildlife in the river,” he said.

Seechewal said, “The prime culprits are those who issued the no-objection certificate (NOC) to the industry. If the industry was 500 metres to 1 km away from the river, the spill could have been prevented mid way and the river wouldn’t have been affected. But there is a mere 50 metre gap between the river and the factory. On top of it, the temperature was allowed to rise to 95 degrees, easing the way for the spill. All these aspects are being looked into by the committee,” Seechewal said.

In the meeting held at the office of the Punjab Pollution Control Board on Wednesday, an official of the Central Pollution Control Board, Chandra Babu, took reports on the mixing of sheera (molasses) carelessly in the waters of the Beas river. The supervising committee inspected the place where a blast at the storing stock of the molaases had occurred and the sheera on a large scale, through the drain, had mixed in the waters of the river Beas.

The molasses spill has caused large-scale deaths of fish and other aquatic animals due to the carelessness of the Chadha Sugar Mill.

Bholath MLA Sukhpal Khaira had also lodged a writ petition in the NGT against the tragedy. The NGT handed over the case to the supervising committee, of which Balbir Singh Seechewal, is a member. The supervising committee inspected the site at the Chadha Sugar Mill, where the barrage of the molasses store had breached. The supervising committee also gathered information about controlling the sheera and arrangements made by the Punjab Pollution Control Board in the case of leaking of molasses.


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