Kangra: On International Women’s Day, more that 500 people, mostly women, voiced their opposition to ed a Bio-medical Waste (BMW) Treatment Plant that has come up in their village Dhugiyari in Kangra District.
The villagers came together to put their forth for closure of the plant before the Pollution Control Board authorities, which was carrying out a site investigation as directed by a Himachal Pradesh High Court order.
The villagers have been agitating for two years whenb construction of the plant owned by Ms Suraksha Bio Sanitzers Limited was started.
In March 2015, Manav Kalyan Sanstha, a village organisation petitioned the court seeking clousre of the plant on the grounds that the unit was located on the river bed of Manjhi Khad and was a health hazard for the local population owing to pollution that it would cause.
In January. the court ordered a stay on the project and on 2nd March 2016 directed the Pollution Control Board to carry out a site inspection of the unit. The court also directed the board officials to hear the objections raised by villagers of the surrounding areas before submit its report.
Pavan Kumar, one of the members of Manav Kalyan Sanstha said “stack of the unit is at an aerial distance of less than 30 to 50 m from nearby habitations and village farms.Nearly 25 families face grave risks from air pollution.”
“The villagers are also concerned about the pollution of ground water as a result of toxins leaching from the units tank of the unit”, he added.
Women who recorded their testimonies before the Pollution Control Board site inspection team pointed out no public consultation was undertaken 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 besdies what would be the pollutants released from the plant” said Manshi Asher, a member of Himdhara Collective an NGO group who are supporting the locals .
“While the pollution control board’s regional office appears to have granted a consent to establish the plant in 2013, no documentation related to the renewal of this consent, or any compliance reports are available to the public,” said Asher.