The garbage issue has raised its ugly head yet again with Bhagtanwala residents on Thursday staging a protest outside the mayor’s office at the Town Hall and setting a 10-day deadline before the Amritsar municipal corporation (MC) to cease dumping of garbage at the Bhagtanwala landfill site.
The protesting residents also blocked the traffic on a road leading to the Golden Temple from the Town Hall.
Holding black flags, the residents assembled at the Town Hall at around 11am and protested for over an hour, and latter they blocked the road for over two hours.
The protest was held in the wake of the MC holding a meeting at the Town Hall to finalise technical bid for the solid waste management (SWM) treatment plant at the Bhagtanwala landfill site.
Police made several attempts to remove the protesters from the Town Hall, but it was only when mayor Bakshi Ram Arora spoke to them that the protest was called off.
However, the blockade, which lasted for more than three hours, saw sloganeering by the protesters against the government and the civic authorities over their lack of concern on the dump issue.
The blockade too was lifted after the mayor assured the protesters that he would write to the government, seeking permission for looking for an alternative site for the Bhagtanwala dump, which he denied later.
Stating that the residents have called off their 12-day-long hunger strike, Jai Inder Singh, a member of the Joint Action Committee formed by the Bhagtanwala residents, said: “In case, the MC does not stop the dumping of garbage at Bhagtanwala, the protesters will block all roads leading to the dump site, preventing MC’s tractor trolleys from dumping garbage there.
“We have submitted a memorandum containing our demands, including relocation of the proposed SWM treatment plant, to the mayor to forward it to the Punjab government,” said Jai Inder Singh. He added that the mayor had “publicly” assured the protesting residents that he would write to the government seeking permission for looking for an alternate dump site.
When contacted, the mayor, however, denied of making any such promises. “The Bhagtanwala dump site has been designated for the proposed SWM treatment plant under the City Master Plan and by an order of the Punjab and Haryana high court. There is no way that I will issue such a statement,” he said.
The Bhagtanwala dump, which came into being in 1999, shot to limelight in November-December last year when residents of the locality had held a 42-day-long protest. Citing health concerns and “violation” of the MSW 2000 Rules, the residents had demanded relocation of the SWM treatment plant, which was to come up under the second phase of the SWM project.