A Punjab and Haryana high court bench on Monday appointed senior advocate Rupinder Khosla to assist it in a public interest litigation (PIL), seeking measures to check uranium contamination in Punjab’s groundwater.
The order came from the high court bench of justice SS Saron and justice Lisa Gill as petitioner’s counsel BS Loomba insisted that thorough tests were not conducted to check presence of uranium in Punjab’s water. On the other hand, Punjab advocate general Ashok Aggarwal maintained that various studies, including one by Bhabha Atomic Research Centre had been done but uranium presence was not found to be “abnormal”.
Khosla, who in 2013 had appeared on behalf of the Punjab government in this case, stood up and questioned as to how thousands of cancer deaths were being reported in the Malwa region of state if that was not the case and insisted that government should be asked to find out the reasons behind it.
Later, the division bench appointed Khosla to assist court in this matter, and examine the whole issue by the next date of hearing on August 26.
In May last year, Punjab had told the court that it would take Rs 4,700 crore to supply surface water through canals to 4,005 habitations in six districts where groundwater is contaminated with metallic and other general pollutants. The districts included Moga, Ludhiana, Jalandhar, Sangrur, Barnala, and Hoshiarpur districts. The government had also told court that Rs 100 crore were earmarked in the budget of 2015-16 for installing water-purification systems in the affected villages.