Chandigarh: Setting up of an industrial park adjacent to Mathewara Reserve forest on the bank of Sutlej river has already uprooted landless Dalit tillers and posed a grave threat to the environment there says a collective of Sikh intellectuals and they sought cancellation of the project.
A 1000-acre industrial park designed and being executed by the Greater Ludhiana Urban Development Authority (GLADA) covers the flood zone of Sutlej river and panchayat land of Sekhowal village which is being tilled by landless Dalits for the past 50 years.
The Sikh Collective, associated with the Kendri Singh Sabha, a central gurdwaras’ body visited the venue yesterday. And it expressed shock that the GLADA had secretly and hastily secured the ownership and transfer of land in its name at night beyond office time. To hush up the earlier Gram Sabha resolution forbidding the sale and transfer of the village land, the GLADA chose to transfer a huge fund of Re 78 crores to the village panchayat in the name of development of the area. That fund is being wasted on installing unrequired street lights and beautification of the village graveyard.
The Sikh Collective deplored that while the displaced villagers in the Rajpura Tehsil were paid around Re ten lakhs per acre while uprooted Dalits in Sekhowal village were not paid a single penny for the land where they were uprooted from.
The industrial park seems to have been planned by GLADA to facilitate the Industrial units to release their effluents in the river without giving a thought that such activities will pollute the down-stream water and damage the fishes and under-water-life besides creating various ecological problems in the area.
Ironically on one side the Punjab government announces to develop nurseries and forest areas in name of Sikh gurus as “Nanak Bagichis” in the state this year and at the same time it is out to destroy the reserve forest of Mattewara. The state government should not succumb to the pressure of industrial houses as the thickly populated Punjab no longer affords traditional and pollution spreading industry. So the government should direct the GLADA to withdrew the project at the earliest.
Members of the visiting delegation organized by the Kendri Singh Sabha included Prof. Sham Singh, Dr. Pyara Lal Garg, Journalist Jaspal Singh Sidhu, Author Rajwinder Singh Rahi, Prof. Harpal Singh, Major Singh Gyan Parkash Trust and Engineer Gurpal Singh Sidhu.
Khushhal Singh, general secretary Kendri Sri Guru Singh Sabha-