The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) has ordered a distillery owned by the family of former Punjab minister and senior Congress leader, Rana Gurjit Singh, in Uttar Pradesh to be closed for violating environmental guidelines and dumping waste into a nearby river and villages.
The CPCB also issued notice to the industrial unit, Rana Sugars Ltd (Distillery Division), at village Belwara in Moradabad, as to why a environmental compensation of Rs 3.16 crore should not be levied on it for the violations.
The notice was issued earlier this month and states that the distillery should stop all its manufacturing operations immediately till compliance of directions issued by the CPCB and UP Pollution Control Board.
The action follows a public complaint lodged against the distillery by paper unit chamber of Kuman Garhwal Chamber of Commerce in October 2019 regarding high colour observed in River Dhela due to discharge of spent wash through tankers from the nearby distillery.
A water quality inspection carried out by CPCB and UP Pollution Control Board revealed that Rana Sugars Ltd was one of the potential industries, which could be causing the pollution.
Further investigation revealed that tankers were being used by the distillery for illegal disposal of the spent wash. The driver of one of the vehicles also revealed that the effluent filled in the tanker would be disposed off in a village, which was about 35 kms from the distillery.
The CPCB report states, “It is evident that the unit is habitual to disposing spent wash through tanker into River Dhela or nearby villages posing potential threat to the land and waterbody, which causes grave injury to the environment.
Physical verification by the officials of CPCB and UPPCB confirms illegal disposal of spent wash outside the premises through tankers”.
Rana Sugars belongs to the Rana Group of Companies, which were started by Rana Gurjit in the 1980s when he first set up Kraft Paper unit in Punjab. After the success of agro boards, Rana Group diversified into sugar manufacturing by first setting up a unit in Buttar Sevian village in Amritsar district. The group now deals in sugar, alcohol and power generation.
Rana Gurjit had been inducted as a cabinet minister by Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh after the Congress came to power in 2017. He had to resign in 2018 after it was found that he had close connections with certain individuals who had been successful in getting sand mines allotted through auction.
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