The imminent byelection for Talwandi Sabo assembly segment has again raised the hopes of residents of Kanakwal village near here of getting rid of the problem of pollution by the Guru Gobind Singh oil refinery.
With the villagers having raised their long- pending demand of relocating them to some other place with chief minister Parkash Singh Badal at a Sangat Darshan programme in the village on Thursday, the gover nment machinery came into action on Saturday.
On the orders of the CM, his special principal secretary KJS Cheema, along with deputy commissioner, Bathinda, Basant Garg, and officials of the land acquisition department visited the village to know the residents’ views and chalk out a plan for shifting the villagers.
Former Talwandi Sabo MLA, who quit the Congress to join SAD ahead of parliamentary elections, Jeet Mohinder Sidhu, was accompanying the team. Sidhu is hopeful of getting the SAD ticket for the by-election in the constituency.
Almost all the residents of the village of about 3,000 people are in favour of shifting from the village. However, the administration claimed that divergent views have emerged on the process of shifting the villagers.
Nambardar of village Bhakar Singh, who has been raising the issue of shifting the villagers, said that majority of the residents are in support of getting relocated to some other place as the pollution by the refinery has made them to live in a hell-like conditions. But the administration has decided to conduct a survey to know the views of the residents.
“We are struggling for getting relocated to another place ever since the refinery started here in April 2012. The foul smell from the refinery has made it tough to live here. Villagers are also suffering from several ailments due to the polluted air and water. The skin problems and asthma are common here,” he said.
He said the recent victims of the pollution were two women, who suffered miscarriage. Doctors said that it was due to pollution in the village.
Garg said that divergent views have emerged on the shifting during the interaction with the villagers, so the administration will carry on discussions with residents for the next threefour days to get their feedback.
“Undoubtedly, all the residents want to shift from the village. But, there are different views on the mode for doing so. Some want the government to take responsibility of relocating the villagers at a suitable place. Some want monetary compensation only and want to shift on their own,” Garg said. He said a report to the government and then the next course of action will be decided.