Monday, November 29, 1999

Ankleshwar industries discharge effluent despite breach in pipeline, residents contemplate litigation

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Bharuch Eco-Aqua Infrastructure Limited says contractor responsible for damage working on war-footing, repairs may take another 48 hoursVillagers in Piraman and the surrounding areas are again facing the stench and side-effects of hazardous industrial effluents. A breach in the pipeline constructed by the Bharuch Eco-Aqua Infrastructure Limited (BEAIL) Final Effluent Treatment Plant (FETP) in Sajod village of the critically-polluted Ankleshwar taluka in the early hours of Thursday has led to the unabated flow of waste in Amla Khadi (creek). The villagers are now contemplating filing a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) against BEAIL.K R Desai, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), BEAIL, admitted that there was a breach in the pipeline on Thursday night. He said despite repeated requests to Ankleshwar, Panoli and Jhagadia industries associations to store the waste in their respective effluent ponds for the next 48 hours, some of them — even within the Gujarat Industrial Development Corporation (GIDC) limits — were releasing them in the BEAIL inlet."A contractor constructing some residential and commercial complex in Sajod village breached the pipeline with an excavator on Wednesday. To alert the industries association, we sent out letters asking them to store the waste in their effluent ponds. But some of them did not stop releasing the effluents to our inlet. We have no option but to dump the waste in Amla Khadi. We have asked the party responsible for the breach to come to our office tomorrow. They are helping us fix the pipeline on a war footing," said Desai.He said the repairs might take another 48 hours. Elsewhere, Piraman villagers, said that after their meeting with Desai, they have now decided to file a PIL against the industries and BEAIL."We understand BEAIL is hard-pressed, but how long can one tolerate this stench? These effluents can cause disease. We have told them clearly to shift Piraman to non-polluted areas or stop the industrial discharge," said Deputy Sarpanch Salim Patel.Meanwhile, the Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB), which recently bifurcated the Bharuch district into two different clusters - with the Narmada as the border - is yet to have an office in Ankleshwar to take stock of the situation. Regional Officer M S Shukla, who was earlier the in-charge for Ankleshwar and Panoli, said Ankleshwar is now off-limits.

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