At the core of controversy between Akali MLA from Jalandhar Cantonment Pargat Singh and the Punjab government, the fate of the much-needed solid waste management plant for the Doaba region hangs fire.
Replying to a question about the plant coming up in Jamsher village in Pargat’s constituency, which the MLA rejected vehemently and led to the refusal of accepting the post of chief parliamentary secretary (CPS), chief minister Parkash Singh Badal on Thursday told the media that the plant was not coming up in Jamsher.
The CM’s revelations have upset the Jalandhar municipal corporation authorities as it had decided to set up the plant at Jamsher after going through lengthy procedures, including permission from the National Green Tribunal (NGT).
The state government had awarded the project to Jindal Urban Waste Management Jalandhar Limited (JUWMJL) and when Pargat opposed the project in August last year, the company had completed the ground work to set up the machinery at the site.
However, the project was stopped in August when Pargat declared that he would go to “any extent” to oppose it.
Following this, the CM formed a committee led by principal secretary SK Sandhu to visit the site and the committee after holding talks with residents submitted its report to the CM.
To date, the government is mum on the project even as the MC had shot off five reminders to clear the status of the waste management plant.
“I don’t know what the CM has told the media in Chandigarh. As far as we are concerned, we have written many times to the government to allow us to initiate the project at Jamsher as it was almost impossible to shift the site plan as we have got all permissions. Shifting the site would mean to keep the project pending for more years,” said Jalandhar mayor Sunil Jyoti. There was also pressure from the NGT to start the project at the earliest, he added.
Sources say since the project site is going to be a major issue in Jalandhar Cantonment in coming assembly polls and even Pargat has refused to accept the post of CPS, government is unlikely to start the project fearing voters’ backlash.
The mayor said the delay in start of the project may harm the city’s chances to get the smart city tag because cleanliness conditions were the most important component of the marking system under the smart city project.
Senior manager of JUWMJL Vipul Sharma denied reports that the state government had not given permission for the start of the project.
“When we met the deputy CM recently to know the delay in the implementation of the project, he assured us that the project would be set up in Jamsher only. Changing site at this time won’t be possible,” said Sharma.
As per project plan, the solid waste collected from 27 civic bodies falling under the Doaba region would be treated in the plant at Jamsher village.
In past one year, the issue also witnessed war of words between local bodies’ minster Anil Joshi and Pargat with the SAD legislator on various occasions accusing Joshi of not listening to the people and bypassing health issues if the project is set up at Jamsher village.
The project, termed as the dream project of the government, has a political significance as its effective implementation will make all cities and towns of the Doaba region waste free.
With the full operations of the plant in place, the JUWMJL, who has been awarded the project, would start door-to-door collection of the solid waste and the garbage collected from the towns would be brought for treatment at Jamsher plant.