Mansurwala, December 25
Mansurwala villagers say there is no pollutant in sight and water look relatively clean because the ethanol plant is not working now. But it is unhealthy and non-potable.
A team of The Tribune today visited the village and talked to them. They alleged that the factory had affected groundwater and soil fertility. Many were battling with cancer and skin diseases. The villagers also showed the team a new RO plant installed in the village, whose filter got choked within 12 hours due to the pollutants in the water, as claimed by them. They also said if the factory remained closed, it would also take around 15-20 years to get clean water here.
Kamal Singh, a villager, said the problem started against the liquor factory in March when more than 50 cattle, owned by farmers of nearby villages, died due to pollution emulating from the plant.
He alleged that the cattle were poisoned as their fodder got mixed with black ash in the air emanating from the factory. After the residents raised the issue, the factory gave a compensation to the farmers, who had lost their cattle.
Then in July, during the digging of a tubewell in Gurdwara Smadh Bhagat Dhuni Chand in Mahian Wala Kalan village, villagers found brackish water, which triggered the protest, he added.
Later, the villagers lodged a complaint with the Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB) following which a team collected samples from the gurdwara, Mahian Wala Kalan, Ratoul Rohi, Mansurwala and the factory premises.
However, the PPCB reported that the samples were free of any pollutants and water was fit for human consumption. The villagers allege that the interpretation of the reports submitted by teams of the board and the NGT’s monitoring committee was wrong and needed a deeper probe.
Banta Singh (70), Mansurwala resident and cancer patient, said, “Three patients have died due to cancer in the last five months in the village and he has been hit financially due to this disease.”
He alleged pollution from the factory had led to many diseases – cancer, skin ailments etc. He said people didn’t get themselves tested because they feared they would get cancer or other diseases due to pollution from this factory.
Jagtar Singh, a villager said, “This is not an issue of one village, but of around 45 villages. Apart from people, this has affected the quality of crops and even the yield is low as compared to other areas.”
In 2006, Deep Malhotra set up a grain-based distillery with 100 KLD capacity, but this year in February, it started its expansion unit here with the increased capacity. The villagers alleged that with the starting of expansion, more pollution would start emanating from the plant.
PPCB gave plant clean chit
- The villagers lodged a complaint with the Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB) following which a team collected samples from the gurdwara, Mahian Wala Kalan, Ratoul Rohi, Mansurwala and the factory premises
- The PPCB reported that the samples were free of any pollutants and water was fit for human consumption
Other problems villagers face
- The problem started in March when more than 50 cattle died due to pollution emulating from the plant
- The cattle were poisoned as their fodder got mixed with black ash in the air emanating from the factory
- The unit started expansion unit with increased capacity
- The villagers allege that it would cause more pollution
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