Residents living along the Bhagtanwala landfill site turned out on the roads to decry the MC’s proposal to erect the MSW plant there. The residents have been demanding shifting of the project to some vacant place in the city’s outskirts.
“The MC will not be allowed to continue with its proposal at Bhagtanwala,” said Sanjay Sharma, a spokesman for Bhagtanwala residents, adding if the MC goes ahead with the construction, the residents will hold a massive protest demonstration like 42-day-long protest earlier.
“The Bhagtanwala site is against the MSW 2000 Rules,” said Sharma.
As per residents, the site has been mentioned as Bhagtanwala village to obtain a no-objection certificate (NOC) despite the fact that the area is a municipal ward and thickly populated.
The residents claimed that no NOC was obtained from the Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB) ahead of finalising the dumping site in 1999. Moreover, the area adjoining a grain market at Bhagtanwala is residential in nature and people have been living here much before 1972, they said.
The grain market is just 1.8 km from the Golden Temple, they said, and the MC and the government are ignoring the impact of pollutants emitted by the MSW plant on the shrine.
In a report tabled in the Rajya Sabha and the Lok Sabha in 2014 on February 13 and February 16, respectively, the parliamentary committee on urban development had recommended closing of all waste plants in residential areas as hazardous emissions from incinerators cause serious health problems to people residing near the dumping site, they said.
The residents claimed that the Punjab State Human Right Commission (PSHRC) had sent a notice to the Amritsar deputy commissioner on January 6, asking him to take appropriate action in accordance with law as per the facts and circumstances. “The proposed site is not in congruent with the MSW 2000 rules. Besides, this site is not sufficient even for Amritsar city, how it would handle wastes from seven other urban local bodies — Jandiala, Patti, Tarn Taran, Rajasansi, Majitha, Rayya and Khemkaran,” they said.
“Let the residents hold demonstrations. This will not deter the MC from going ahead with the construction of the proposed solid waste treatment plant at Bhagtanwala. The site was designated by the Punjab and Haryana high court and the Amritsar Master Plan for the purpose,” said Pradeep Kumar Sabharwal, municipal commissioner.