JALANDHAR: In a public hearing on the proposed project of solid waste management plant in Jamsher village and a dozen others nearby expressed strong opposition on Friday. Officials and consultants appeared in dock as they faced tough questioning by the public. Villagers compared the production of harmful gases from the proposed plant to toxic chemicals used by the US forces during the Vietnam war.
A large number of women had also turned up at the hearing and they raised slogans against the proposed project. The consultants also failed to satisfy the people or simply fumbled for right answers during the hearing.
Successful bidder Jindal Urban Infrastructure Limited has proposed to generate power by burning the waste at this plant. PPCB executive engineer S S Matharoo made it clear that the plant was proposed to manage 700 metric tons of solid waste daily.
Former Jalandhar cantonement MLA Jagbir Brar, who started the questioning from public side said the environment impact assessment report (EIA) was not made available in Punjabi to the panchayats and people were not in a position to completely understand the fallouts of the project.
Brar said it was basically a power generation plant from urban waste and least care had been taken of the environmental issues.
Villagers alleged that they were already living along the dirty water flowing in the Jamsher drain, foul smell emanating from the sewerage treatment plant at Pholriwal and this plant would make their life more hellish.
Gopal Krishna, convener of NGO Toxic Watch Alliance, raised the issue of dioxins, an organic pollutant, which would be generated from combustion of the waste, but there was no satisfying reply to it.
Avtar Singh of Pholriwal village said, even their underground water was polluted due to flow of untreated water in Jamsher drain and now their air would also be badly polluted due to this project.
The villagers also did not get a satisfactory reply if any plant like the proposed one here was running successfully anywhere in the country. The Punjab Pollution Control Board which organized the hearing made it clear that no plant like this was operatiing in Punjab as of now.
After the situation turned chaotic with villagers angrily arguing with PPCB officials and representatives of two consultant companies, ADC (Development) Sarojani Gautam Sharda, who was present along MC commissioner B S Dhariwal managed the situation and questioning session continued.
I P Singh
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