With deputy chief minister (CM) Sukhbir Singh Badal set to spend the entire Thursday listening to civic and administrative problems of Jalandhar, the issue of setting up solid waste management plant at Jamsher village is likely to get a solution, finally.
The issue has already reached a flash point between the Bharatiya Janata Party ruled municipal corporation (MC) and Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) MLA from Jalandhar Cantonment constituency, Pargat Singh.
While the civic body wants the work on the solid waste management plant to begin soon and has written to CM Parkash Singh Badal for taking a final call, Pargat has been repeatedly opposing the project in his constituency. He had even declared that he would “go to any extent” to stop the project, which has already been cleared by central and state environment agencies.
Even the local bodies department wants the project to begin at the earliest, but the project has failed to see the light of the day because of opposition from the SAD MLA.
After Pargat opposed the project in August last year, CM Badal had sent a high-powered committee led by his special principal secretary SK Sandhu to visit the site.
The government has been keeping mum on the project even as the MC has written more than five reminders for clarity on the status of the project.
“I discussed the project with the deputy CM during his meeting with all mayors from Punjab last week. I apprised him why we need to commence the project as soon as possible as further delay may hamper our chances of landing the ‘smart city’ status. Cleanliness is a key condition in the evaluation system for the smart city race. The deputy CM assured me that the matter would be resolved during his visit,” said mayor Sunil Jyoti.
Sources in the state government also disclosed that a committee led by the special principal secretary had also submitted its report in favour of the project, bypassing the objections of Pargat.
As per the project plan, solid waste collected from 27 civic bodies falling in Doaba would be treated in the plant at Jamsher village.
The issue has also led to a war of words between local bodies minster Anil Joshi and Pargat on various occasions, with the SAD MLA accusing Joshi of not listening to the public and ignoring health issues in setting up of the project.
“I don’t know if any specific meeting regarding the project would happen during the deputy CM’s visit. I have been told that he would hold discussions about all the projects in the pipeline in the city. Let me clarify that I am not against the solid waste project, rather, I am opposed to the currently proposed site of the project. Already, a dairy complex running in the same village has made life hell for the locals and this plant would only worsen the situation,” said Pargat.
The project, termed as a dream project of the government, carries huge political importance, as its effective implementation is going to make all cities and towns of the region free of problems of solid waste.
After full-scale operations of the plant are in place, Jindal Urban Waste Management Jalandhar Limited (JUWMJL), which has been awarded the project, would start door-to-door collection of solid waste and garbage collected from the towns would be brought for treatment to the plant at Jamsher village.
With the government making all out efforts for an image makeover in the face of the upcoming Assembly polls in early 2017, the project, if implemented successfully, could be projected as a major gift of the SAD-BJP government to the region.