Tuesday, January 17, 2017
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Navjot Singh Sidhu arrives in Amritsar; welcomed by the Congress workers.




Fed up with hollow promises, villagers hope for new dawn

Say successive governments failed to check pollution in Ghaggar17 Jan 2017 | 1:42 AM

SAMANA: Residents of hundreds of villages situated alongside the Ghaggar are fed up with the “false” promises made by leaders of various political parties over the past 25 years.

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Aman Sood

Tribune news service

Samana, January 16

Residents of hundreds of villages situated alongside the Ghaggar are fed up with the “false” promises made by leaders of various political parties over the past 25 years. Before every election, leaders come and promise that a mechanism will be put in place to check devastation caused by Ghaggar floods, but all those promises have remained unfulfilled, they say.

While no solution has been worked out to tame the Ghaggar flood fury, the river has now turned into a hub of cancer spread by water pollution that has reached alarming proportions.

Residents of remote Hashanpur Mangta village in the Samana constituency say the Ghaggar has become a “river of sorrow” for them. Neither the Shiromani Akali Dal nor the Congress has done anything for them, they allege. “We have no option but to drink polluted Ghaggar water, use it for irrigation and feed cattle. Time and again candidates of various political promised to work out a solution to our problems, but that was not to be,” they say.

“Our children cannot go to school as there is no bridge on the Ghaggar choe. My fellow villagers are dying due to various ailments, but no politician has done anything for us,” says village nambardar Jhirmal Singh. As he talks to The Tribune, a rickshaw with Aam Aadmi Party banner crosses by. “All our hopes are now hinged on them. What is the harm in supporting a new outfit when both traditional parties have done nothing for us,” he says, as his fellow villagers, draped in shawls, nod in affirmation.

Septuagenarian Niranjan Singh and his fellow villagers are quick to engage with any journalist who visits Shutrana segment. “Leaderan waang tussi vi election weley his aunday hon (like leaders you also come only during elections,” he says.

“I have spent almost my entire life in these villages and seen politicians making repeated promises, but they remained unfulfilled. Now, the situation has become alarming as cancer-causing chemicals continue to flow into the river. People are suffering from skin infections and dying of cancer. Polluted water is now flowing in our veins,” says Niranjan, who worked as a carpenter.

While AAP leaders acknowledge the gravity of the situation, SAD and Congress leaders often try to ignore the issue. The only words Congress and SAD leaders say on the issue is that they “have done everything possible and now the Centre must ensure more funds”.

Originating from the Shivalik hills in Himachal Pradesh, the Ghaggar meanders though several districts of Punjab and Haryana to flow into Rajasthan from where it enters Pakistan.

Embankments have come up and the riverbed dug up and widened at certain places, bringing some relief to the people of Sangrur and Patiala constituencies. “We are happy at the erection of embankments, but it is not a permanent solution. The Ghaggar fury became a poll issue for the first time around 20 years ago, but no permanent solution could be worked out to it so far,” says Mehal Singh from Dharmherhi village.

Villagers allege the Punjab Pollution Control Board has miserably failed to check direct discharge of effluents from factories and sewage into the Ghaggar. “It is high time that promise-breakers (politicians) are taught a lesson, besides being made to explain why they have failed to find a solution to the problem so far,” villagers say.

Fed up with hollow promises, villagers hope for new dawnPollution in the Ghaggar river has reached alarming proportions. Tribune file photo
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