Adulteration of milk is not a new problem in the town of Bulandshahar in western Uttar Pradesh (UP). However, it is leading to another type of slow poisoning. Local people complain that dairies pump their effluents containing urea and other chemical additives into the ground.
"Some workers from a dairy came to me one day and told me that they want to file a case against the particular dairy as the owner threw them out without any reason. In course of the conversation, they revealed that the dairy is adulterating milk with urea and caustic soda and all the effluents that are thereby produced are pumped into the ground. They also named a couple of dairies nearby who are doing the same,' says Anil Vats, a lawyer in Bulandshahar.
The dairies use a lot of water in cleaning the equipment, leaving large amounts of effluents, which are even more dangerous in the case of dairies engaged in adulteration and contain urea, caustic powder and colour additives, among other things. With the town's milk production nearing one million litres, reports in the media say that hundreds of litres of effluents are pumped into the ground everyday. According to GSYadav, regional officer of the UP Pollution Control Board, Ghaziabad, the board has closed down four milk-processing units as they did not have effluent treatment plants.
Yadav acknowledges that the effluents can contaminate groundwater as their biological oxygen demand is as high as 800-1,000 milligrammes per litre (mg/l), while the permissible limit for effluents is 30 mg/l. He adds that the chemical oxygen demand and pH levels of effluents are also considerably higher than is considered safe.
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