Bandipora up in arms against HCC ‘noncompliance’

Menacing Pollution Levels At Kishenganga Construction Site Alarms Locals
Bandipora, Dec 28: People in Bandipora and its adjoining villages are up in arms against Hindustan Construction Company (HCC) executing the 330 MW Kishenganga hydro electric project accusing the company of causing perilous pollution in the area.

People accuse HCC of polluting not only air, but the water resources in and around Bandipora posing a threat to both life and environment.
The public outrage intensified against HCC following the recent death of thousands of fish in Mudhumati River allegedly due to the pollutants channeled by the construction company into the waterway.
People from length and breadth of this township are up in arms demanding closure of HCC units in the area.
Locals allege that the company is operating several construction units in the area in violation of the environment conservation norms.
Residents of Kaloosa, Watrina, Panzigam, Ongam, Darmahama, Pazalpora, Kralpora, Harteng, Nathpora, Nowpora, Dachigam, Ganaie Mohalla, Khan Mohalla, Muslimabad and adjoining villages have accused HCC of polluting Zainagir Canal and it adjoining tributaries including Madhumati and Bonar Nallah.
Locals complain that the company is discharging waste as well as turbid water into the canals, streams and ponds in the area. They allege that the government is silently watching wanton environmental “vandalism” by HCC.
HCC started work on 330 MW Kishenganga power project in Mantrigam area of Bandipora some four years back.
“Earlier the pollution was not visible now it has gone up to an extent that people feel difficulty in inhaling the polluted air,” locals told Greater Kashmir.
Besides latest death of thousands of fish in Madhumati River, several household animals have perished in the area, supposedly, because of growing pollution.
“HCC is polluting water, air and soil. But the authorities and the State Pollution Control Board (SPCB) are turning blind eye to the issue,” said a local Ghulam Muhammad.
“Though it is stipulated that the crusher units shouldn’t function near the population, many such units including casting yard are situated just few feet away from residential houses,” complained the residents of Kralpora.
Locals allege that District Administration and SPCB authorities have shut their eyes to the plight of affected villagers.
“Our miseries started in October 2009 when HCC started construction of the power house and tunnel. Initially when the survey was carried out our houses were shown in the affected area. But it was assured that no harm will be caused to these villages. However, while executing the project environmental protective measures were brazenly subverted for the reasons best known to HCC,” residents said, adding; “HCC management first assured us of environment-friendly work, now they are destroying our water resources and damaging the ecology.”
The villagers threatened that they won’t allow continuation of work on the project.
Locals accuse HCC of throwing the government order to winds by diverting the water to other channels rather than constructing filtration plant and sedimentation tanks to filter polluted water.
Pertinently in January this year, SPCB took cognizance of the reports appearing in this newspaper about the pollution caused by construction work of Kishanganga power project.
SPCB had asked HCC to construct sedimentation tanks within 20 day, saying the Bonar Nallah is not only a source of drinking water for residents living downstream at Pazalpora, Kralpora and other villages, but its water is also used for growing paddy in the nearby areas. “So the Nallah irrigates thousands of kanals of paddy land and abounds with Trout fish and requires to be protected,” SPCB had said.
But, according to locals, the Company didn’t act on SPCB recommendations.
“If the government fails to tackle the growing pollution, we have no option but to migrate from the area” locals told Greater Kashmir.
“We appeal to the Chief Minster, Omar Abdullah to look into the matter,” they said.
The disturbing fact about turbidity of water caused by HCC was revealed in February 2012 during tests conducted at National Institute of Technology (NIT) Srinagar following massive protests against the pollution of water resources in the area.
The physical and chemical analysis report of NIT endorsed by the District Development Commissioner Bandipora’s order under number: DCB/IAF/2012/12-18 Dated, January 24, revealed that the pollution had created chemical disturbance in the water flowing near the project site where HCC is operating.
It reveals that “the total dissolved solids in water are 1340 mg/l which should have been otherwise only 500mg/l. Similarly the pH value of water has increased to 13 from 6.5 percent; the range of Chlorides has decreased from normal 250-1000mg/l to 48 mg/l.”
The report reveals that the hardness of water has increased to 780 mg/l from 300-500 mg/l. “The alkalinity of the water has increased to 1210 mg/l.”
The report further revealed that the contamination of water is alarming and can lead to an increase in water-borne and insect-borne diseases in the adjoining villages including Kralpora, Kaloosa, Pazalpora, Mantrigam and other areas near the power house site and Main Tunnel.
“The polluted water can neither be used for the human consumption nor for washing purposes,” report said.
SPCB Speaks
SPCB authorities assured that the issue will be looked into.
Regional Director SPCB Ali Muhammad Dar said; “We have earlier also issued caution notices to HCC to take care of surrounding environment.”

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