Kangra village women unite against Biomedical Waste Treatment Plant fearing ground water pollution
SHIMLA- A gathering of close to 500 people comprising mostly of women in one voice opposed a Bio-medical Waste (BMW) Treatment Plant that has come up in their village Dhugiyari in Kangra District. The villagers came together to place their demand for closure of the plant to the Pollution Control Board, which was carrying out a site investigation based on the order of the the Himachal Pradesh High Court.
The villagers have been agitating for the last two years since the construction of the plant owned by Ms Suraksha Bio Sanitzers Limited started. In March 2015 a local organisation formed by some residents of the village, Manav Kalyan Sanstha,filed a petition in the High Court praying for the closure of the plant on the grounds that the unit located on the river bed of the Manjhi Khad would be a hazard for the local population owing to pollution which it would cause.
In January this year the High Court of Himachal ordered a stay on the project and on March 2, 2016 directed the Pollution Control Board to carry out a site inspection of the unit and also hear the villagers of the surrounding areas and submit a report to the court.
The stack of the unit is at an aerial distance of less than 30 to 50 m from the habitations and farms in the village. Close to 25 families will be at a risk of air pollution.
However, the village is also concerned about the pollution of ground water as a result of toxins leaching from the tank of the unit, said Pavan Kumar, a resident of the village and one of the leaders of the Manav Kalyan Sanstha.
Women who gave their testimonies and statements to the Inspection team of the Pollution Control Board also raised the issue that there was no public consultation before setting up of the plant.
Villagers do not know who owns the plant, what its capacity is, what kind of waste would be brought there and what the entire treatment process would be and what would be the pollutants released from the plant
said members of Himdhara Collective supporting the locals.
While the pollution control board’s regional office seems to have granted a consent to establish to the plant in 2013, no documentation related to the renewal of this consent, or compliance reports are available to the public.
Photo Credit: Sumit Mahar and Manshi Asher