The Maharashtra government has been asked by the Bombay High Court and others to file a response to a petition opposing construction of a sugar factory in Aashti village of Solapur district on the grounds that it would damage ecology and pollute environment.
The petition filed by Aashti Grampanchayat alleges that the factory was being set up in violation of rules by Audumberraoji Patil Sakhar Karkhana, whose President is wife of Maharashtra Minister Harshvardhan Patil.
The other respondents to the petition are Maharashtra Pollution Control Board, Solapur Zilla Parishad, Mohol Tahsildar, Commissioner of Sugar and Solapur Collector.
The grampanchayat alleged that the factory is coming up in South west side of the Ashti Talao, an ancient reservoir built during the British regime and the only source of drinking water to Aashti village and surrounding 50 villages.
The petitioner said if the factory is allowed to come up it would pollute the entire area which is frequented by migratory birds from all over the world in summer and winter.
The site of the factory is just 3.5 kms from the reservoir and threatens to pollute the water which is also used for irrigation purpose by the nearby villages, the petition contended.
The grampanchayat has already opposed the factory at this site saying that it would be hazardous to public health due to emission of pollution caused by discharging effluents into Aashti reservoir.
The grampanchayat said it had refused permission to allow the construction of the factory as well as its plea to set up a 10 MW power generation plant. However, the factor had applied for permission with several other authorities and it is feared that they may get permission from some of them.
The grampanchayat argued that the site of the factory is on agricultural land and as such the project cannot come up there. The factory is being illegally constructed without obtaining necessary permission from the authorities and also without changing the user status, thereby causing water, and noise and air pollution.