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Threat to groundwater: Belagavi sugar factory under lens

In a notice dated June 20, the CPCB listed nine violations by the Krishna Sahakari Sakkare Karkhane Niyamit (KSSKN) and sought to know why the factory in Athani shouldn’t be shut down till compliance is achieved.
Last Updated : 01 July 2024, 01:57 IST

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Five months after the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB) issued a closure notice to a sugar factory in Kalaburagi, another one in Belagavi has come under the radar of the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) for violating the provisions of the Environment (Protection) Act and posing a risk to groundwater.

In a notice dated June 20, the CPCB listed nine violations by the Krishna Sahakari Sakkare Karkhane Niyamit (KSSKN) and sought to know why the factory in Athani shouldn’t be shut down till compliance is achieved.

Sugar factories are among the 17 industries classified as “highly polluting”. In January, DH reported on the delayed action against a factory linked to BJP leader Basanagouda Patil Yatnal. The high court stayed the closure order later.

In the case of KSSKN, the notice comes after the factory was inspected by a team of CPCB officials in February when it had sought permission to manufacture ethanol. The major violation identified by the CPCB was the factory diverting effluent to a lagoon instead of treating it in the effluent treatment plant. Around five acres were converted into a lagoon and filled with effluent, ash and press mud.

Historical satellite images show that the lagoon has been in existence since 2019, it said.

The sample collected from the lagoon showed biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) at 976 mg per litre, Chemical Oxygen Demand (COD) at 2856 mg/litre and Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) at 2949 mg/litre. The TDS, BOD and COD of the effluent stored in the earthen lagoon exceed the treated effluent standards, posing a potential threat of groundwater contamination, the notice said.

One of the three bagasse boilers was monitored during the inspection. The emission results indicate that the PM (particulate matter) value was 6,843.28 mg per cubic metre against the limit prescribed by the KSPCB (150 mg per cubic metre), it said.

The other violations included the failure to provide a designated storage area for hazardous waste, failure to maintain a log book of the quantity of used oil, fly ash, press mud, sludge/solids generated and non-operation of a flow meter to monitor the ETPs. The CPCB has given 30 days to the industry to file their objection, failing which action will be initiated without further notice, it said, hinting at a closure order.

DH reached out to KSSKN Managing Director GM Patil, who said, “I am yet to receive the copy of the notice. We will check with our consultant and respond to the notice.”

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Published 01 July 2024, 01:57 IST

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