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HindustanTimes Wed,01 Oct 2014

Polluted Ghaggar: villagers form panel to file PIL

Bharat Khanna, Hindustan Times  Sardulgarh (Mansa), February 27, 2013
First Published: 23:31 IST(27/2/2013) | Last Updated: 23:41 IST(27/2/2013)

An unpleasant and unbearable odour coming from a polluted Ghaggar has forced residents of Sardulgarh to form a committee, which will file a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) in the Punjab and Haryana high court over the issue.

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The Ghaggar had turned black near Sardulgarh and even Mansa deputy commissioner Amit Dhaka had last month written to the Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB) to check the cause of pollution.

A team of PPCB officials visited Sardulgarh constituency to check pollution and blamed the Sardulgarh municipal committee and industrial units in Haryana for discharging effluents.

Residents have decided to start regular protests until the issue is resolved. A committee formed under Tej Memorial foundation would file PIL in the high court to get the issue resolved and to demand hygienic living conditions for locals.

The discharge of effluents into the river in Ratia district of Haryana by some soap making factories and other industries without treating the industrial waste had polluted Ghaggar waters. From Haryana, the river enters Sardulgarh constituency of Punjab's Mansa district.

Water samples taken

Residents of Sardulgarh and nearby villages are suffering from ailments, including cancer and skin disorders. Tej Memorial Foundation secretary Jatinder Singh Sodhi said, “It is difficult to stand along the 1-km stretch of the river near Sardulgarh. We have collected samples from the river and groundwater of nearby areas apart from samples from Ratia in Haryana. The pollution from factories in Ratia has affected residents in Sardulgarh and requests made to the authorities concerned have fallen on deaf ears.”

Most of the villagers still rely on groundwater, which is polluted and unfit for drinking and irrigation. As per reports of agriculture department, of the samples taken last year more than 40% of groundwater is unfit for drinking and irrigation. The ground water contains high content of fluoride, arsenic, Residual Sodium Carbonate (RSC) and Electrical Conductivity (EC) in villages of the constituency.

'Inter-state issue'
Speaking to HT, a resident of Sadhuwala village Satnam Singh said, “Ghaggar is polluted and gives unpleasant smell. Cancer and skin diseases are prevalent in our village. The groundwater is also polluted and sometimes hand pumps also give black water.”

The Mansa deputy commissioner said, “Last month, we wrote to the PPCB to check the cause of pollution and its team recently visited the area and submitted the report. The river is getting polluted in Haryana and it being an inter-state issue we have written to higher authorities and the state government. It is reported that effluents from Sardulgarh MC were also being discharged into the river, but the practice has been stopped now.”

Mansa civil surgeon Dr Baldev Singh Sahota said, “Samples from the river and groundwater were taken and the reports are yet to reach us. We are creating awareness among public apart from bringing the matter to the notice of high-ups.”

Sardulgarh MLA Ajit Inder Singh Mofar said, “I have raised the issue a number of times and will take up the matter this time too. Chief minister Parkash Singh Badal had assured that clean drinking water will be provided to the constituency this year.”

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