Villages drowning after rains due to airport expansion while polluted water destroying fields, allege locals
This story has been updated.
Carbonated beverage Coca-Cola’s bottler unit, Amrit Bottlers Pvt Ltd, located in Chandpur Harvansh in Ayodhya district of Uttar Pradesh, is polluting the only water source for irrigation in the region, a joint committee constituted by the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has found.
The expansion of the Maryada Purushottam Shri Ram International Airport has also added to the woes of farmers.
The Coca-Cola bottler plant took “permission for use of groundwater has been taken for approximately 4,840 KLD, but industrial effluent is being generated at the rate of 1,850 KLD, which depicts that more than 50 per cent water is being unused and discharged in the drains without being reused or demineralised,” the tribunal observed, after persuing the joint committee report.
The Tilaiya drain, locally known as Tilodki Ganga, is a stream of the Sarayu river. The narrow rain-fed channel is the main source of irrigation for the locals and later merges with the Sarayu again.
The channel is slowly disappearing with the expansion of the airport in Ayodhya. The industrial effluents discharged into the drain are also affecting the crops in the region and damaging the fields, alleged villagers.
Tilodki Ganga or Tilaiya drain passes through Hansapur, Pure Husain Khan, Ganja, Janaura, Bikapur, Ranopali, Ashapur, Takpura, Haibatpur, Kajipur, Chitawa, Basupur, Sirsa alias Jaisinghpur, Shahjahanj Pur, Manjha and other villages of Ayodhya.
The pollution levels of effluent coming out of the inlet and outlet of the sewage treatment plant and effluent treatment plant of the Coca-Cola unit are under control, the counsel for the factory told the NGT. It also asked for time to file the report regarding the discharge of water.
“As per Analysis Report shown above, the treated effluent has been found as per Central Pollution Control Board / State Pollution Control Board norms,” the joint committee report said.
The bench of Justices Sheo Kumar Singh and Arun Kumar Tyagi and expert member A Senthil Vel told the district magistrate of Ayodhya to reuse the water being discharged, using nano filtration methods and rainwater harvesting to reduce the stress on rainwater harvesting.
The district magistrate was further ordered to file a report within three weeks on the issues.
The application in the NGT was filed by Durga Prasad Yadav, a resident of Ganja village. “The Tilodki Ganga does not exist according to the Uttar Pradesh government,” Yadav told Down To Earth via email.
The airport is built on the banks of the stream and many villages in the region, including Ganja, are now submerged due to the construction, he said. “The drain water overflows in the monsoon and the discharge by the bottling factory is also contaminating the water,” Yadav added.
The UP Pollution Control Board told the NGT that a proposal has been prepared to create storm drains that will ensure rainwater drains out of the airport. However, the project, which will cost Rs 5,587.55 lakh, has not been approved yet.
The proposed drain is unlikely to be approved in the near future, said Yadav. The NGT will next hear the case on November 1, 2023.
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