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Molasses spillage: Punjab considers making sugar mill foot bill for water released to neutralise leak

Sources said the government was dealing with a huge political pressure on the issue, but it would not spare anyone if found guilty.

Written by Kanchan Vasdev | Chandigarh |
May 22, 2018 4:00:44 am
Molasses spillage: Punjab considers making sugar mill foot bill for water released to neutralise leak A large number of fishes were found dead in the Beas on May 17 after molasses from a sugar factory leaked into the river in Punjab’s Beas town, about 40 km from Amritsar. (Express photo)

The Punjab government is considering making Chadha Sugars And Industries Private Limited pay the bill for release of 2,000 cusec water to neutralise the molasses spillage into the river and canal network. Tonnes of molasses leaked into Beas river from the sugar mill located at Kiri Afghana on Thursday killing aquatic life and polluting water.

Also, the government is mulling to increase the security deposit of sugar mill from Rs 25 lakh to Rs 1 crore. The security of Rs 25 lakh, earlier deposited by the unit has already been forfeited as penalty for pollution and killing aquatic life.

Sources said that out of Rs 1 crore to be deposited as security, Rs 50 lakh may have to be deposited for restoration of dissolved oxygen (DO) in water and Rs 50 lakh for the loss of aquatic life in case of any such incident in the future.
Besides, the state government has ordered sampling and testing of water from all water works, supplying canal water to seven southern districts, so that the contamination could not affect potable water consumers.

“Water testing was done in about 300 water works after every 48 hours to ensure there was no affect on human population. We will charge this bill also from the unit if the inquiry report indicts the unit for negligence,” said a source in the government.

Kahan Singh Pannu, Chairman Punjab Pollution Control Board said the inquiry report was awaited. “The DO of water at the tail end of canal network is five now. It was zero on Thursday, the day of leak. Anything above four is good enough. The inquiry is taking time. I cannot say anything else on the issue till the inquiry is completed.”

Sources said the government was dealing with a huge political pressure on the issue, but it would not spare anyone if found guilty.

“We have released 2000 cusecs (each cusec is 32 litres of water released in a second) of water to dilute and wash out molasses from Thursday to Sunday. The report is now good. It is a relief,” said a source. Punjab Governor VP Singh Badnore has meanwhile sought details of the extent of contamination and damage done to the environment by molasses leak into Beas from Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh.

Expressing concern over the spillage, Badnore in his letter to the CM has stated that the river water is used as drinking water in districts of Rajasthan and Punjab. He has asked the state government to take immediate necessary steps to rectify the current situation and address the long-term issue of pollution of rivers in Punjab.

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