A suo moto notice regarding pollution in Bajwa township has been issued by a two-member bench of the Gujrat high court comprising Justice J R Vora and Justice S D Dave to the Gujrat State Fertiliser Corporation (GSFC) the state government, Gujrat Pollution Control Board and the Central Pollution Control Board. The notices were issued after Down To Earth, (DTE, Vol 7, No 7), carried a report on the effects of pollution caused by the effluents released by GSFC and over 190 industries located in the area. According to the findings, the Mahi and Mini rivers have been made "repositories of chemical waste by the industries which produce H-acid, fertilisers, petrochemicals, pharmaceuticals and dyes."
The GSPC, which began operating in the area in 1967, has been dumping gypsum and chalk waste in the area. This has led to the creation of a 40-metre high mountain spreading over 14-hectares and four huge ponds, two each of gypsum and chalk slurry. Every time it rains, the toxic slurry from the mountain goes right into the homes of the residents of Bajwa. The slurry also percolates into the ground water. Due to the contamination, the residents of Bajwa have contracted a range of illnesses which were not there three decades ago.
In 1969, a technical committee was appointed by the Gujrat government to look into the pollution of the Mahi and Mini rivers. The committee had suggested creating a 56-kilometre-long effluent channel to dispose of the waste. The channel which was commissioned in 1983 passes through 24 villages of Vadodara and Bharuch districts before emptying into the Gulf of Cambay. But only 10 per cent of the effluent water reaches the sea, the rest is used by the people for irrigation purposes. Various other studies have also revealed that unless immediate steps are taken, the people of Bajwa and surrounding areas face a grave threat of life due to the pollution.