Even as the municipal Corporation (MC) authorities gear up for the execution of the solid waste management project, residents of about nine villages adjacent to Jamsher have stepped up their opposition to the project. The plant for the treatment of solid waste is to be set up here.
Residents of villages Jamsher, Bhode Saprai, Phuldiwal, Jugral, Chite Wani, Udopur, Nanak Pindi, Kaira and Dheena protested against the project on Friday and some of them even threatened to commit self-immolation, if the project was implemented.
Villagers criticised the state government and the Jalandhar municipal corporation for ignoring their genuine concerns, while planning the setting up of a plant here.
Balwinder Singh, owner of a dairy farm in Jamsher, said he was a supporter of the SAD, but he opposed the plant as it would spoil his business, but also effect the environment of villages.
"We will oppose the treatment plant and will never allow the the construction of a solid waste treatment plant here," he said.
Congress leader and former Jalandhar Cantonment MLA ,Jagbir Singh Brar said that while the SAD-BJP government had promised to make Jalandhar the new California. However, the decision to set up a garbage treatment plant for as many 29 urban bodies of Jalandhar circle was only making the city a dumping site.
He said that residents of nearby villages would have to face the worst affects of the whole project, because about 1,500 metric tons of garbage from urban bodies of the region will be ferried to the site. Brar denounced the claims of MC authorities that the Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB) had approved the project. He said he would be raising the issue with the Central Pollution Control Board and the ministry of environment and forest.
Hundreds of trucks to be deployed for ferrying of garbage will further affect the environment of these villages.
Harman Ahluwalia, a resident of Jamsher village, said the move was a bulder and will adversely affect the future of the area.
An agriculturist from Phuldiwal, Sukhbir Singh, said the residents were prepared to make any sacrifice to ensure that the plant is not set up here. "This is just the beginning of the struggle against the treatment plant and people will take this fight to any level. The issue pertains to our health and lifestyle," he said.
Asha Devi from Bhode Saprai village said: "The women of these villages will never allow the authorities to destroy the future of the coming generations."
Kulwant Kaur from Nanak Pindi village too supported Asha "Life in some these villages is already a health hazard due to due to pollution."
Under the state government's solid waste management project, waste from 29 urban bodies under the Jalandhar cluster will be carried to Jamsher, where a common treatment plant is proposed to be set up. An agreement for this has been signed with the Jindal group.
As a part of process to start implementation of project, the company will start door-to-door garbage collection from some parts of Jalandhar and transport the same to a dumping site in Baryana from July 15. The project implementation in other urban bodies will start gradually.
The company had been given a year for setting up the solid waste treatment plant at Jamsher after the project execution begins. Till then garbage will be dumped in Baryana on daily basis. The company had also claimed generation of electricity from the garbage, while the residue will be dumped at a site in Hoshiarpur district.
The MC has also served notices to owners of eight dairy farms in Jamsher to evict the dairies for paving the way for setting up the treatment plant. The corporation is already facing the ire of safai workers, who have said that they would lose their jobs, if the system is introduced. The group has been holding demonstrations against the state government.
When contacted, additional commissioner PS Jaggi said that people's worries about the plant stemmed from ignorance. He said due preventive measures had been taken to protect the environment in the agreement the government had signed with the company.
He added that there was no risk of any kind of environmental hazard to adjacent villages out of this project. "The PPCB had given clearance for the project after considering these measures. The matter will be placed before the state appraisal committee constituted for the project.
In the meeting with this committee next week, the MC will deliberate on all aspects of the project including steps mentioned to protect the environment. The setting up of treatment plant will start after a no objection certificate from this committee," he said.