M A I N   N E W S

Budha Nullah raises big stink again
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Services

— Photo by Inderjeet Verma
— Photo by Inderjeet Verma

Ludhiana, July 9
For more than a year and half, at least 5,000 volunteers (kar sevaks) cleaned 20-km stretch of Budha Nullah after spending Rs 50 lakh, besides their own resources for the project. Their efforts have come to naught with the units situated along the nullah releasing effluents into the cleaned stretch.

The hard work of volunteers of the Budda Nullah Development Committee to clean the stretch from Dhanansu to Rattangarh has gone waste and the volunteers are heartbroken.

The committee assisted by religious leader Baba Jaspal Singh Baddowal of the Bhai Ghanayia Trust cleaned this part after working on it for two years and spending Rs 50 lakh.

Due to the lackadaisical attitude of the district administration towards the issue, the nullah has started carrying toxic effluents from eight-10 factories situated along this stretch. Till a month ago, the stretch was fully clean. Residents of the villages situated alongside were hoping the nullah would remain clean.

But the units, including a cardboard factory, cotton mill, hosieries and chemical factory have started discharging effluents into it. "Soon after rains, when the nullah was carrying rain water, industrialists started discharging effluents into it. We cannot do anything about it and are disappointed," said Jaswant Singh Chapa, president of the committee.

He added that they had reported the matter to P.Ram, a senior functionary of Punjab government who was entrusted with Budha Nullah work by the former government following directions by the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

"We are really disgusted. If somebody takes up a noble cause, people do not allow him to complete it. I motivated my followers, who came in thousands to clean the nullah. They brought their tractors and all kinds of infrastructure to clean the water body. I paid fuel bills and spent Rs 50 lakh we collected from followers. But this is the fate if our project,” said Baba Baddowal in despair.

He said he did not know what would happen next. The entire matter would be reported to the high court by P.Ram, whom they had told everything. The committee was given three years to clean the nullah by the state government. It had cleaned 20 km of the nullah and was going to take up the work on 38 km after monsoon.

The cleaning work on the nullah was started on December 6, 2006, in collaboration with the state government and the P. Ram committee. The Baba had said once the nullah was cleaned, they would strengthen both its banks and lay a road on one side and forest belt on the other. He had promised to provide four lakh saplings like neem and pipal to kar sevaks, who would plant them on the banks of the nullah.

“We were going to convert the most polluted drain into a recreational place. We had hoped that if a religious body like ours requests people not to pollute it further, they will listen. But things have not moved our way, “ said Baba Baddowal.



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