Closure of 19 tanneries in Jalandhar: Owners to move court against NGT order
Terming the National Green Tribunal’s (NGT) order toclose down 19 tanneries as ‘unjustified’, the Punjab Leather Federation plans to move the Punjab and Haryana high court. In a recent order, the NGT had ordered the closure of these tanneries and also sought a comprehensive report on the remaining 41 tanneries at the leather complex.
The tanneries have, however, claimed that the NGT has issued these orders on the basis of a ‘motivated’ complaint without even taking the Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB) into confidence. It also claims that no facts were examined.
Owners claim that the industry employs over 20,000 people directly or indirectly and if the state government failed to find way out, hundreds of workers will lose jobs. “Losses to owners will also run into crores,” said a tannery owner.
The issue of pollution has plagued the industry and the region for at least a decade.
“The NGT order is illogical. We spend Rs 50 lakh every month on the maintenance of the Common Effluent Treatment Plant (CETP) installed in the leather complex to treat water from tanneries. This same water gets treated again in a sewerage treatment plant of the PPCB,” claimed Parveen Kumar, president, Punjab Leather Federation.
HC is already monitoring matter
PPCB sources said the Punjab and Haryana high court was already monitoring the matter and had formed a committee comprising Jalandhar deputy commissioner, a PPCB member, sewerage board and a member of Central Leather Research Institute to examine the functioning of the leather complex and give a report. Sources claim the complainant Darshan Singh of Chimyara village, does not exist and in his complaint, he has not even shared his antecedents.
“A former PPCB superintending engineer, transferred from Jalandhar — on complaints of corruption filed by tanneries factory owners — is most likely behind this. He is also close to a senior NGT member. The NGT did not grant a next hearing to the PPCB, before issuing the closure orders,” said a senior PPCB official.
When contacted, PPCB Chairman Kahan Singh Pannu said, “We are examining the NGT’s order and we will take action as per the law.”