A day after the Shiromani Akali Dal accused the ruling party of not acting tough against the sugar mill allegedly involved in leaking molasses into the Beas river leading to the death of a large number of fish, Punjab Environment Minister O P Soni accused the previous SAD-BJP government of never taking environmental issues seriously.
He said the Congress government in Punjab, led by Chief Minister Amarinder Singh was committed to save the environment of the state.
“The environmental issues were never taken up seriously by the previous government and that is why there was no check on mills and factories, which used to spill their chemicals and other hazardous residues into canals and streams,” Soni said in a statement.
Yesterday, the opposition SAD had sought judicial probe into the molasses leakage. It had alleged that the owners of the mill had close links with ruling Congress and they were trying to use their clout to go scot free.
A large number of fish were found dead in the Beas on May 17 after molasses from a sugar factory leaked into the river in Punjab’s Beas town, about 40 km from Amritsar.
Soni said the situation in the riverBeas was being constantly monitored by the state government.
Punjab Pollution Control Board, senior officials of irrigation department and the deputy commissioner were continuously reviewing the situation and all canals would get fresh water up to the tails by Monday, he said.
People have been requested not to use water from these canals for drinking purposes, the minister said, adding 2,000 cusecs of water from RanjitSagar Dam has already been released into the Beas river leading to improvement in the situation.
The environment department has constituted a committee under the chairmanship of the chief engineer of Punjab Pollution Control Board which will submit its recommendations so that such incidents could be prevented in future.
Asserting that those responsible for the Beas incident will not be spared, SoniChaddha Sugar Mill has already been sealed and the security deposit of Rs 25 lakh confiscated.
Instructions have been issued to officials of the environment department and the Punjab Pollution Control Board to strictly monitor the situation and stringent action will be taken against industries contaminating rivers and streams, the minister said.