Jairam launches Buddah Nallah clean-up project in Punjab

Union Minister for Environment and Forests Jairam Ramesh has launched a “bioremediation technology” project to curb pollution caused by sewerage and industrial effluents in the Buddah Nallah of Ludhiana in Punjab.

The project is estimated to cost Rs. 16 crore in the initial phase and it will be borne by The National River Conservation Directorate of the Union government. It is expected to take one year for completion.

Relief to thousands

The project will provide relief to thousands living along the Sutlej river and canals off the Harike barrage in Punjab and Rajasthan. Water pollution has caused severe disorders among them.

Flowing parallel to the Sutlej, the 31-km-long Buddah Nallah, of which about 14 km falls in Ludhiana, has, for decades, been polluted by industrial effluents, sewage water, solid waste from dairies, leather and electroplating industries and dumping of garbage. It merges with the Sutlej near Moga, from where the polluted water is carried downstream.

In September last, on the invitation of Ludhiana MP Manish Tiwari, Mr Ramesh travelled along the Nallah to make an assessment of the pollution levels.

Fatal disorders

In March, The Hindu highlighted the plight of at least 40 villages of Ferozepur district, where children needed more wheelchairs than toys, as they are succumbing to disorders caused by high levels of toxicity in the Sutlez water that had seeped into the aquifers.

Talking to presspersons after laying the foundation for the project near Haibowal on Saturday, Mr. Ramesh expressed concern over the environmental degradation in Ludhiana district. “Ludhiana is among the richest districts of the country but it is not as clean as it should be.” He sought more attention to overall cleanliness of the city and its surrounding areas.

Detailing about the project, the Minister said temporary barricades, ‘Green bridges', fortified with microbial consortia would be erected at regular intervals depending upon the flow and quantum of water in the Nallah. There would be reduction in ‘biochemical oxygen demand' (BOD) and ‘chemical oxidation demand' (COD) levels in the water passing through the green bridges.

Through this completely green technology, the microbial consortia would chew away the organic load and industrial pollutants. The benefit of this technology would be visible within three months, Mr. Ramesh said, adding the micro-organisms deployed in this technology were harmless and indigenously found in nature. No genetically modified organisms would be used in the project, which would run on an environmentally benign process that had no harmful impact on the ecosystem and on human or animal health.

The project would be closely monitored not only by the Ministry but also by experts, public representatives and the media.

He expressed the hope that the Punjab government would implement other projects too which were proposed by Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal when they met him in New Delhi recently.