PPCB raids an eyewash: Seechewal

Patiala, Punjab: The board is biased and its functioning lacks transparency, says the environmentalist. Alleging that the functioning of the Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB) was completely biased and lacked transparency, noted environmentalist Balbir Singh Seechewal said that it was high time the PPCB officials “pulled up their socks and acted in a professional manner” to check the growing menace of pollution by industries.

He termed the PPCB raids as a mere eyewash that were conducted to hoodwink the government and ensure that selective industrialists “close to the political lobby and those enjoying PPCB patronage” went unnoticed.

Seechewal was reacting to the recent raids on seven dyeing units in Ludhiana of which only two such units were said to be found where Effluent Treatment Plant (ETP) was not in operation. PPCB has denied all allegations claiming that their functioning is completely transparent.

It all started when the PPCB member secretary Dr Babu Ram today issued statements that six teams headed by Harbir Singh, a Senior Environmental Engineer, raided the seven dyeing units situated on the Tajpur Road where Kairavi Processor and Shri Bala Ji Processor were caught for not operating the ETPs. “While the other units, M Tech Processor, started the ETP just on the entry of the raiding team, another unit was found having bypassed the system though its ETP was operational,” he stated.

Reacting to the selective raids, PPCB appointed member Balbir Singh Seechewal threatened to take up the matter pertaining to selective sampling and lackadaisical attitude of the PPCB functionaries with the Punjab chief minister in his next meeting. “PPCB in the past six months has done nothing to check the growing menace of pollution. Instead, it conducts raids on some factory units as a mere eyewash while many other industrial units that are hand-in-glove with the PPCB officials in the field go scot-free,” he told The Tribune.

Seechewal further said that it was high time that the government appoints a senior officer to monitor the working of PPCB, as usually PPCB raids are conducted days before a meeting with the chief minister or with other senior officials.

“There should be checks and balances on PPCB officials and they should answer how no unit owned by a politician was ever found defaulting,” he said.

“We want a joint mechanism where NGOs can play a role and can help the officials at the grassroot level do sampling of the effluents being discharged from the factory units so that responsibility could be fixed,” stated Seechewal.

Reacting to the allegations, Babu Ram denied that sampling was done in a selective manner or there was any leniency towards the units releasing polluted water, be they politically connected or not. “Our raids are regular and we are not involved in selective sampling,” he claimed.

Source: The Tribune

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