More than two months after National Green Tribunal (NGT) slapped Rs 50 crore fine on the Punjab government over river pollution, the state has come up with its ‘Clean River Sutlej 2019’ plan — a blueprint for action to be taken to clean the river over the next two years.
As part of the plan, the government has identified 42 places, including around 30 major towns, where there is utmost need of installing Sewage Treatment Plants (STPs) as waste is being released into Sutlej directly from here.
It is also identified that there is need to upgrade Common Effluent Treatment Plants (CEPTs) at Ludhiana and Jalandhar as industry is releasing industrial untreated water into river.
To keep the water quality good — which is currently ‘C’, ‘D’ and ‘E’ category at most places and is highly unfit for drinking purpose — the need of releasing fresh water has been given utmost priority.
Sutlej’s water is used for drinking purpose by the people of Malwa region of the state and people of several districts of Rajasthan state.
The 105-page action plan was finalised about a week back by the Directorate of Environment and Climate Change Department of Science, Technology and Environment, government of Punjab.
On November 15 last year, the NGT had slapped Rs 50 crore on Punjab government, which has to charge it from the industries discharging non-treated effluents in the river, following the report of NGT-appointed Monitoring Committee led by PPCB member and environmentalist Baba Balbir Singh Seechewal. The committee was formed in a 2014 case of Sobha Singh of Rajastan and others versus Punjab state. Sobha Singh had taken the plea that due to pollution created by Punjab state in river Sutlej, the people of several districts of Rajasthan were forced to drink highly contaminated water.
In the action plan, a copy of which is available with The Indian Express, it has been mentioned that there are 65 towns, which are directly and indirectly discharging their wastewater into river Sutlej and a total of 101 STPs are need, out of which only 59 STPs are there. Also 30 major drains/nullahs, which carry the waste of 84 sub-drains, and 11 local bodies/ villages are directly discharging waste in the river, are to be connected with the proposed STPs.
The plan says that bio-gas plants are needed for handling cattle feacal matter and two ETPs (Effluent Treatment Plant) are to be set up by 2020 and 2021 at two dairy complexes at Ludhiana and Jalandhar from where untreated waste water is discharged indirectly into the river. For Ludhiana ETP, Rs 43.30 crore have already been approved. Also Rs 17.65 crore have been put aside for modernisation of slaughter house at Ludhiana.
Also, out of 2423 industrial units in Ludhiana, over 2000 are discharging their trade waste directly or indirectly into the river. The plan talks about upgrading the capacity of common effluent treatment plants (CETP) joined by many of these units. The CETPs are required to be upgraded at several places including at Jalandhar’s Leather complex.
The water quality of river Sutlej was monitored at 16 locations, starting from upstream of Nangal (where it enters Punjab) up to Hussainiwala in Ferozepur district on monthly basis so as to identify the problem areas and to take action accordingly.
After identifying all these challenges, the government has proposed to implement the complete plan in couple of years. The NGT monitoring committee and state task force will regularly track this progress work and report to the NGT.