Pitaunji is a small farming village situated in Nawalparasi disctrict of Nepal. The village is located right on the banks of the river Narayani, which is one of the major rivers in the country. The main source of livelihood in the village is farming, dairy and recent employments at the Gorkha brewery part of the Carlsberg Group. Once a pristine village today stands at the brink of an environmental catastrophe due to land, air and water pollution by the brewery.
The Gorkha brewery was first established in the village in 1988. For more than two decades the brewery was a role model industry, providing good employment opportunities for more 1000 people, with sound policies on protection and preservation of the environment and local community. However as of 2013, the rise in demand and consumption of alcohol led to mass production without adequate improvements over factory management and production inventory. As a result the once exemplary and benevolent establishment mutated into a disastrous industrial giant solely motivated by its profit making at the expense of the surrounding environment.
Over the years, with the brewery disregarding any check system, the pollution has soared to extreme levels, putting the local community and the natural environment at great risk. Various complaints were filed but sadly ignored. In desperation, on the 2nd of September 2015, locals from the community including factory employees hosted a 3 day blockade, of the only public access road in the village, in protest of the extreme pollution caused by the brewery.
Source: Mukundasen Television
The major issues that the village put forth were as follows:
- The air contamination by brewery burners, using husk instead of coal. Transportation of burner wastage without protective measures, and dumping within the village.
- The dumping of toxic chemical waste directly into the Narayani River without proper filtration.
- The clogging of public drainage by the dumping of brewery waste creating a hazardous cesspool for various infectious diseases such typhoid and encephalitis.
- The dumping of factory wastage such plastic, broken glasses and containers within the village community.
- The stench produced by the acidic yeast in the neighboring village. The dumping of it into a tributary of the Narayani, contaminating the river.
- The immense sound pollution from operating generators, disrupting life of the neighborhood families
- The unethical and unlawful parking of trucks in the only public access road in the village, blocking complete flow of traffic including school buses. Despite the brewery claiming to have toilet facilities for truck drivers, the litter of human feces along the road and on the river bank, polluting the village environment. The vulnerable situation created by the loitering of truck drivers during the night, putting the security of woman at risk. ISSUE RESOLVED
- The lack of protection in brewery transportation of empty beer bottles leaving a trail of broken glass debris along the public road putting pedestrian and children at risk of injury. ISSUE RESOLVED
After signing a common accord, the brewery agreed to deal with the various issues within a given period of time. To date only a minority of the issues have party been dealt with, while major concerns such as the air pollution and water contamination has worsened, further endangering the already vulnerable village community and environment in Pitaunji.