Water samples drawn from 29 borewells near an ethanol plant in the district were found unfit for drinking and had an unpleasant odour, a report by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) has said.
Total dissolved solids (TDS), boron and sulphates were found in high concentrations beyond acceptable limits in the water samples, according to the report submitted to the National Green Tribunal.
Water samples taken from two borewells located inside the plant contained huge amounts of heavy metals, including arsenic, chromium, iron, manganese, nickel and lead, it said.
In January, Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann ordered the immediate closure of the plant after agitation against the unit by villagers.
An inspection team also found that 10 borewells and six piezometers were installed on the plant premises allegedly without obtaining permission from the CGWB (central ground water board) or the PWRDA (Punjab Water Regulation and Development Authority).
The CPCB report said two of these borewells were installed at a distance of a few metres, in violation of guidelines.
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The samples drawn from the piezometers and the three borewells located in the plant were found to be free from heavy metal contamination. However, two borewells installed in the same plant were found contaminated with high concentrations of heavy metals, COD (Chemical Oxygen Demand) and colour, which as per the report, indicates the injection of contaminated wastewater through reverse boring or pumping into a particular zone tapped in these two borewells.
The CPCB team has recommended an investigation to establish the contaminated zone and take remedial action.
It has also directed the Punjab Pollution Control Board to consider the alleged violations and take necessary remedial measures for the decontamination of the affected sites.
The CPCB has told the PPCB to undertake a detailed environmental site assessment by engaging a professional agency having expertise in the assessment and remediation of contaminated groundwater and soil.
The PPCB was further told to ensure that the plant administration submits a detailed project report for the remediation of groundwater in contaminated areas.
Moreover, CPCB has asked the PPCB to impose environmental compensation (EC) or initiate legal action for causing injury to the surrounding environment and contamination of groundwater.
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