The district administration has put aside its own report and allowed a sawmill that it deemed to be polluting last year to restart operations this month. The mill is situated in Perjia, Shahkot.
Nine months back, the then additional deputy commissioner (ADC) Gurpreet Singh Khaira had issued closure orders of the mill, stating that it was operating in a residential area and was a source of high intensity noise pollution.
Public grievances officer Manpreet Singh Ball started inquiry into the case in February and allowed the mill to restart operations in March. 55-year-old Bakhsho Rani, who had campaigned against the mill for six years, said she was disappointed at the administration's decision.
She had documents proving that the mill was closed only after following due procedure. A Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB) official had visited the sawmill on the directions of the then ADC found the mill to be polluting.
It was also found that the mill owner Parmjit Singh did not have electricity connection, and the mill was run on a 10 horse-power diesel engine, a continuous source of noise. Bakhsho Rani said the walls of her house had developed cracks due to the noise's impact. She was happy when the mill was closed.
She said she received a letter from Manpreet Singh Ball informing him that the administration had started inquiry on her complaint made six moths ago. However, she told the officer that her case was closed and now there is no need of inquiry. Despite her plea, an inquiry was conducted and the mill was allowed to re-start operation in March.
Ravi Kumar, general secretary of Jan Chetna Mandal, said the administration had not given any report of the inquiry to them. They have now sought an enquiry report through the RTI. Jalandhar deputy commissioner Priyank Bharti and public grievances officer Manpreet Singh did not respond despite repeated attempts over phone.