Facing blame for having caused widespread damage to the Beas river ecosystem, Chadha Sugar and Industries Pvt Ltd had been found to be lacking in pollution control measures in 2016 too, following which the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) had shut down the molasses-based distillery and grain-based distillery of company.
Documents accessed by The Indian Express show they had failed to comply with the direction to install online emission and effluent monitoring system by June 30, 2015. The documents also that the CPCB issued directions on May 5, 2016, to close down the two units located in district Gurdaspur until they installed online monitoring devices and provided the required connectivity to CPCB.
The suspension of operation of these two units was revoked by the CPCB in November 2017 after the management of the company informed it had complied with the CPCB directives, which was verified by the anti-pollution body.
In another letter dated August 1, 2017, the CPCB mentioned that Chadha Sugar and Industries Ltd had misrepresented facts pertaining to closure of their units till they commissioned 24X7 monitoring system networked with CPCB and Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB). While Chadha Sugars responded to CPCB saying they had closed their manufacturing, the CPCB Member Secretary, AB Akolkar, said that this contention was incorrect as the mill was shut down only after operating it during the crushing season. The letter notes that this was non-compliance of the closure direction given by CPCB and for which action as per law shall; be initiated separately.
Earlier, the Chadha Sugar Mill and Industries had also been closed down in 2011 after it was found dumping effluents instead of treating its waste. The order to close the unit down was issued by Kahan Singh Pannu, the present Chairman of PPCB, who was the Chairman at that time too. However, Soon after he issued the order, he was transferred.
Minister suspends officials
In another move, Punjab’s Environment Minister O P Soni has suspended the Executive Officer (XEN) Kuldeep Singh and SDO Amritpal Singh Chahal of Regional Environment Office at Batala in the case of molasses spill in Beas.
Soni said that these officers did not properly monitor the area of Kirri Afghana, which falls in their jurisdiction, which is why the incident of molasses spillover has occurred from Chaddha Sugar Mill.