Ludhiana’s Budha Nullah, the dirtiest drain in all of Punjab, which attracts domestic sewage and industrial waste water, opens out into the Sutlej River, the major source of drinking water in Punjab. This is leading to major diseases such as Hepatitis C, liver cancer, typhoid and many other problems, according to.
350 million litres of domestic or household waste-water and 150 million litres of industrial waste-water finds its way into Budha Nulla every day, according to data available with PPCB.
There are over 250 dyeing units in the city and around 20 percent are small to midsize units.
Most of the units have installed sewage treatment plants (STPs) that adhere to existing pollution control norms. The volumes of waste water are rising but they do not have the space or the funds to upgrade their STPs. This results in partially treated industrial water being dischared into Budha Nullah, said Satish Kumar, who runs a dyeing unit.
PCCB officials harass dyeing units for discharging partially cleaned water. The installation of CETP by the PCCB would solve the problem, said Kumar. “We are taking steps, but the pollution control board should do its bit to clean the water in the drain”, Kumar said.
The absence of a CETP in Buddha Nullah hampers the growth of the dyeing industry. “We cannot discharge our chemicals without treating it, which slows down the production process,” said Satwinder Singh, who also runs a dyeing unit in the city. .
“The state government, and the PPCB have never supported industrialists in Ludhiana. Some 30 percent of all dyeing units have shut and many others are ready to move their factories to other states,” said Ashish Sharma, a dyer who has been in this business for 30 years.
“The other reasons for the decay of the industry is the high value added tax (VAT) rate; unprecedented power cuts and high electricity tariffs which is around rupees eight per unit. We are not able to bear the costs involved in dyeing fabrics. We have taken up the matter with the government but it is not ready to give us a solution”, said Ranjit Singh, another dyer from Ludhiana.