18 months on, sugar mill yet to clear penalty for polluting Beas

Board seeks objections on doubling of molasses storage

18 months on, sugar mill yet to clear penalty for polluting Beas

Aman Sood

Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 3

Almost 18 months after molasses spillage from Chadha Sugar Mills in Gurdaspur village polluted the Beas and a penalty of Rs 5 crore was imposed on the firm by the Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB), the board has been able to collect only Rs 2.5 crore from the firm so far.

Instead of collecting the entire amount of penalty, the board has issued a notice inviting public objections so that the firm can be granted permission to double its molasses storage capacity. People have been asked to file their objections in 30 days.

The 2018 molasses spillage, which was termed as an “environment catastrophe of a very high level” by the state government then, had polluted the Beas on May 17 and killed hundreds of fish and contaminated water in a vast area.

The public notice issued by the PPCB reads: “It is for information of all concerned that M/s Chadha and Industries Pvt Ltd has proposed to make an expansion of its existing integrated complex... at Dhanlaxmi Estate, Kiri Afgana, Batala tehsil, Gurdaspur district.”

“Notice is, hereby, given to all concerned to file suggestions, views, comments and objections, if any, on the proposed project, to the Member Secretary, Punjab Pollution Control Board, Vatavaran Bhawan, Nabha Road, Patiala, within 30 days of the publication of this notice. A public hearing will also be held on March 30, 2020, at 12 noon at the main gate of the industry at Kiri Afgana village, which can be attended by any person, including bona fide residents, environmental groups and others. Oral/written suggestions, if any, can also be made during the public hearing,” states the PPCB notice.

PPCB Member Secretary Karunesh Garg said, “The notice does not mean we have cleared them for expansion. A decision to grant the no-objection certificate will be taken once all formalities are completed. They recently deposited another Rs 25 lakh of the Rs 5 crore penalty amount. We are spending money on rejuvenation of the river and the expenditure made is collected from the mill in instalments.”

Chadha Sugar Mills consultant RA Singh, however, maintained that the mill was adhering to the PPCB guidelines and depositing money as and when asked by the PPCB.

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