Chandigarh, Jan 6 (IANS) Punjab-based eco-warrior Balbir Singh Seechewal Friday urged contesting candidates and parties in Punjab to put environment protection in their manifestos.
Seechewal, who is known for his campaigns to clean polluted rivers and rivulets in Punjab, told reporters here that the need of the hour was for political parties and candidates to show their firm commitment towards saving the environment.
Elections to 117 seats in the Punjab assembly will be held Jan 30.
Pointing out that it was the duty of the government to provide the best environment to its citizens, Seechewal said: ‘Since 1974, we have The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act. It is already a part of our Constitution, we only have to implement it.’
Seechewal said: ‘The water that enters Punjab is of ‘grade A’, i.e. the purest, but when it leaves the Punjab region to join major rivers again it is degraded to ‘E grade’, which is the poorest and most dangerous to intake. Punjab is the land of water and it the land now that has the most destructed water resource. All the parties contesting for the elections in Punjab have been sent a request to add this in their manifesto.’
He pointed out that the Sanjha Morcha, comprising the newly floated Peoples Party of Punjab (PPP) led by former finance minister Manpreet Badal, the CPI, CPI-M and Akali Dal (Longowal), had already included environment augmentation in their manifesto.
‘Other parties need to do the same,’ he said.
He said the Budda Nalah (drain) in Ludhiana, the Chhiti Bein rivulet flowing through Nawanshehr, Hoshiarpur, Phagwara and Jalandhar and the Kala Singhian drain were falling into the river Sutlej.
‘This river then flows to Malwa region and Rajasthan. The electroplating waste of cyanide is being carried by this river when it enters the Malwa (south Punjab) and Rajasthan area. Hence, these have become a cancer belt,’ he said.
‘Only in the region adjoining these rivulets, 6,000 patients are being admitted with diseases like cancer, black jaundice, suffocation and skin allergies. All the water from these rivulets is being used for irrigation, drinking and also in holy places like temple and gurdwaras. The aquatic life of these rivulets has been totally destroyed,’ he added.
Seechewal, who was named by Time magazine in 2008 as one of the Heroes of Environment, has become Punjab’s most recognised eco-warriors spearheading a unique campaign against the pollution of the state’s rivers.