Punjab chief minister (CM) Parkash Singh Badal on Thursday urged his Haryana counterpart Manohar Lal Khattar to join him in chalking out a time-bound action plan to clean the Ghaggar river which flows across both states.
In a high-level meeting between the two CMs at the Punjab Bhawan here, Badal informed Khattar that it was time both states intensified efforts with a view to make the river pollution-free within a year-and-a-half, a spokesman said.
Badal urged Khattar to initiate immediate measures by installing more sewage treatment plants (STPs). He also asked him to upgrade the existing ones to revive the river water for irrigation purpose.
Badal further underlined the need to stick to the 10 mg per litre level of the bio-chemical oxygen demand (BOD) instead of 30mg/per litre, asking the Haryana government to achieve the same standards as fixed by the Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB). This, he said, was essential to conserve the quality of the soil and the crops.
Badal also suggested that a joint committee of the chief secretaries of both states be set up to monitor the progress of installing STPs. The committee, Badal suggested, would also ensure the achievement of standards, and not permit any discharge from industries into rivers.
He also assured his Haryana counterpart that he would soon request the Himachal Pradesh CM to take a call on curtailing industrial and domestic waste discharge from Parwanoo, Nahan and Kala Amb.
After taking the HP CM into confidence, a joint meeting of the three states would be held to further the programme, the spokesman said.
On December 9, the Punjab CM held a meeting with the Chandigarh administrator Shivraj V Patil about measures to plug the ten vulnerable outlets of untreated sewage, and the Sukhna choe carrying Chandigarh’s sub-standard treated wastewater into the Ghaggar.
Listing Punjab’s initiatives in cleaning the rivers in the state, Badal said a massive programme had been started to ensure that industrial effluents/domestic sewage are not discharged into the rivers.
He claimed that a vast network of STPs and ETPs conforming to PPCB standards was being set up in all towns and cities, including industries, to treat polluted effluents to the permissible levels.
The Haryana CM assured support to the Punjab government, and also agreed to the suggestion of maintaining the BOD level at 10 mg/per litre for the discharge of treated sewage through STPs in Haryana in a phased manner.
Highlighting the Ghaggar’s historical significance, Khattar said the highly revered Saraswati river was once a part of this river.
The Badal-Khattar bonhomie
The meeting held in bonhomie also had Khattar asking Badal to join his endeavour to take up all other issues pertaining to the two states on a priority basis. Contentious issues pending between Punjab and Haryana include the Chandigarh’s transfer, Satluj-Yamuna-Link canal and the Hansi-Butana puncturing, which, it may be recalled, keep coming up in different tones and tenor among the political leaders.
On Khattar’s offer, Badal said that Punjab and Haryana were like brothers and assured the former that he was ready to discuss the states’ issues. Badal said Punjab would work hand-in-hand with Haryana for the purification of Ghaggar too.