The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Science and Techonology and Environment and Forests has set a 30-day deadline for the Amritsar municipal corporation (MC) to come out with measures to check water, air and noise pollution, ensuring safe drinking water and a better environment to its citizens to breath and live-in.
These instructions were handed out to municipal commissioner Pradeep Sabharwal here on Sunday after the 11-member parliamentary committee held meetings with a cross section of people, government officials and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to solicit their viewpoints on the environment of Amritsar and the levels of different kinds of pollution that exist.
The MC will send the proposed steps that it will undertake in writing to the committee through the Punjab government.
Addressing the media after the meetings, committee chairman and former union minister Ashwani Kumar made it clear that these instructions would have to be strictly compiled by the MC.
Among those who met the committee members was Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) secretary Dalmegh Singh, members of NGOs such as Mission Agaaz, Amritsar Eco Sikh and Amritsar Vikas Manch and Dr HP Singh of Fortis.
Officials of the corporation, Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB) and Sewerage Board also met the committee.
“A lot of apprehensions were expressed by people about the high levels of air, water and noise pollution. We gave necessary instructions to the officials concerned,” said Kumar, a Rajya Sabha member from Punjab.
The committee expressed concern over depleting groundwater table and sub-soil water quality, which in certain parts of Punjab has high uranium contents. Then air pollution caused due to open burning of paddy residue also came up for discussion at the meeting, and the committee asked the state government to take strict measures to check the burning of stubble.
Kumar said concerns were also raised over safe disposal of biomedical and municipal waste. It was pointed out that the solid waste treatment plant issue had been hanging fire, he said.
According to Kumar, another issue discussed was related to disposal of dead animals, particularly milch cattle. He said the district administration had been instructed to take the necessary steps to ensure that dead animals were not dumped in the open, particularly along the roads and highways and near residential areas.
Then some senior citizens brought up the issue of lack of open spaces in the city before the committee. Steps also need to be taken to reduce pollution around the Golden Temple, Kumar said while pointing out that the PPCB had been told to ensure that levels of all types of pollution are within control. He also asked the administration to ensure that the ban on plastics is strictly followed.
“If the state government wants grants to deal with pollution, we will ensure that the central government gives the required funds. But the need for establishing good air quality and maintaining the environment, is the duty of the government and it must do its bit in this direction,” he added.