| The Bharalu in Guwahati. File picture |
Guwahati, April 2: Rapped by the Pollution Control Board, Assam, the railways have promised to stop the discharge of pollutants into the Bharalu river.
Pollution board chairman R.M. Dubey told The Telegraph today that they received a letter from the Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR) yesterdaysaying it would comply with the board’s directives within three months to prevent pollution of the Bharalu.
The board had issued a set of directives to the railways last month to stop polluting the river and threatened to take legal action if the railways failed to comply with the directives.
According to the board, failing to comply with its directives will initiate legal proceedings according to Section 41 of the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974. The act prescribes imprisonment for a term that shall not be less than a year and six months, but may extend up to six years with fine.
“The railways have written to us that they will be taking the pollution control measures on a fast-track basis. After we receive the compliance report from the railways, we will carry out an inspection to see whether our directives have been complied with or not,” Dubey said.
During an inspection by the board officials on February 11, it was found that the diesel shed of the railways at New Guwahati is releasing untreated effluent containing toxic substances into public drains. This ultimately merges with the Bharalu, thereby violating Sections 24, 25 and 32 of the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act and rules framed under the act by the state government. According to the board, during the February 11 inspection it was also found that the effluent treatment plant at the diesel shed of the railways was out of order and there were no pollution control measures. The board officials observed that because of regular discharge of oil, petrol, diesel, grease and other polluting matters, the flora and fauna in the Bharalu had vanished. Its dissolved oxygen level has also gone down to almost zero and the biological oxygen demand level is more than 75mg per litre.
Following the inspection, the board wrote to the chief mechanical engineer of the NFR, directing him to take certain pollution control measures such as installation of oil traps, effluent treatment plant, online effluent quality monitoring system and to stop discharge of untreated effluent into the river.
The board also pointed out to the railways that the diesel shed is operating without obtaining the mandatory consent of the board.