Gurugram: CM’s assurances on Bandhwari fails to cut ice with villagers
Chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar on Friday tried to allay apprehensions and doubts of residents of villages located near Bandhwari waste treatment plant, but his efforts cut no ice as the villagers said they will not settle for anything less than the relocation of the plant.
Khattar said a group of three persons including local councillor will be sent to China to study the functioning of a waste-to-energy plant. “We will take a final call on shifting the Bandhwari plant after they return from China,” Khattar said while laying foundation stone for the plant at Bandhwari on Friday.
As concessions to the village, Khattar announced construction of a 4km road from Sector 58 to Baliawas village, house tax waiver for five years and a directive to the Municipal Corporation of Gurugram (MCG) to meet 50% of the domestic electricity expenses of villagers.
“The waste-to-energy plant is being constructed as per the conditions laid down by the National Green Tribunal (NGT). Residents of Bandhwari village met me to discuss the issue and we have decided to take a final decision after three-member group returns from China,” Khattar said.
The villagers are, however, not enthused with way the things are moving.
“There is a private school belonging to a BJP leader and the road construction has been announced to facilitate that school. Villagers here have never raised any demand for a road. We will hold a mega panchayat soon to decide the strategy for further protest,” Manoj Kumar Bandhwari, a resident of Bandhwari who is one of the members spearheading the protest, said.
The residents of seven villages — Bandhwari, Dera, Gwal Pahari, Ghata, Baliawas, Behrampur and Mangar (in Faridabad) — held a mahapanchayat on Thursday and a silent protest outside the Bandhwari waste treatment plant seeking its relocation and decided to protest during Khattar’s visit.However, they later decided to call off the protest following an assurance from the CM that the their concerns will be looked into.
The villagers said that over 100 residents have died of cancer linked to the contamination of groundwater resources by the waste treatment plant.
“This is all politics. We have demanded that the plant be shifted 5km away from its present location and the panchayat is ready to give land at the alternate site. What is the problem in shifting the plant to an alternative site?” Raja Ram, former panchayat chief of Bandhwari village said.
Vaishali Rana Chandra, an environmentalist, said that the freebies have been announced in a bid to induce villagers to call off their protest. “It is an eyewash. Majority of villagers are not happy. Waste segregation is a major factor for the success of such plants and several households in Gurugram are yet to adopt the practice. I will write to the chief minister and the Union minster of environment and forest again and urge them to consider the villagers’ demand,” said Chandra, who had a brief chat with Khattar on the sidelines of the event on Friday.
Ankit Aggarwal, chief executive officer of Ecogreen Energy Gurgaon Faridabad Pvt Ltd, the concessionaire assigned to set up the plant, said that the plant is being built following all norms and would be completed by December 2019. He said the plant would put an end to waste dumping and waste burning in the open.