Ruchika M Khanna
Chandigarh, February 8
The Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB) has withdrawn its “consent to operate” given to the distillery-cum-bioethanol manufacturing plant at Mansurwala village in Zira. With this, the plant management of Malbros will not be able to run the plant.
The withdrawal of consent by the PPCB comes four weeks after Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann announced his government’s decision to shut the plant in the wake of months of protests by villagers living in areas surrounding the plant.
They have been claiming that pollutants from the distillery were adversely impacting soil health and these pollutants were finding their way into the food chain, also affecting human and livestock health.
However, even after the announcement to shut down the plant, villagers have stayed put at the protest site, saying they won’t budge till formal orders to shut the plant are issued.
Though the government could not find a way to shut down the factory immediately (the unit is lying closed for months now), it is learnt that the permissions required to operate the factory will be withdrawn one by one.
A top official in the state government, requesting anonymity, said the permission by the PPCB was withdrawn four days ago.
Meanwhile, the licence to operate the distillery, issued by the state Excise Department, is to expire on March 31. Sources in the department say it is unlikely that the licence will be renewed. This distillery has been in operation since 2007, though it started manufacturing bioethanol only last year. However, because of protests by farmers, supported by several farmer unions, the plant has been lying shut for months now.
Top officials in the state government said the government, after deliberating on the issue with officials of the PPCB; Science and Technology Department; Excise Department; and Law and Justice Department, it was decided that the consent to operate the unit be withdrawn by the PPCB.
The consent has been withdrawn after the board reportedly received the report of three of the committees constituted by the state government in December to study the impact on groundwater, agriculture and soil health, human health and livestock health.
Only the report of the committee constituted to check the impact on groundwater is awaited.
Interestingly, the government is not going ballistic about this as yet, considering that the Invest Punjab summit is scheduled for February 23-24. The decision to shut down the factory could wean away potential investors.
3 panel reports
n The consent has been withdrawn after reports of three of the panels constituted by the government in December to study the impact on groundwater, agriculture and soil health, human health and livestock health were received
Licence expires soon
- The licence to operate the distillery, issued by the state Excise Department, is set to expire on March 31
- Sources in the department say it is unlikely that the licence will be renewed
#Environment #Pollution #Punjab Pollution Control Board PPCB #Zira Agitation
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