Tribune News Service
Jalandhar, September 14
Joining the mass movement initiated by villagers and Shiromani Akai Dal leader and area MLA Pargat Singh against setting up of a solid waste plant to thermal power plant at Jamsher village, renowned environmentalist Balbir Singh Seechewal today said that he would soon launch a state-level solid waste management drive from his native village.
He was attending a one-day workshop on the solid waste management organised by Punjabi Satth Sabha, Lambra.
Sperm count reduced to half in 50 years
While revealing the harmful impact of millions of tonnes of solid waste lying untreated in the state, health expert Dr AS Azaad said untreated waste releases toxic emissions in the air that has affected the reproductive system and the physical and mental health of unborn babies in the state. “Various studies have shown that due to various environmental hazards, the sperm count in Punjab has reduced to half in the last 50 years. Also, it has affected the health of unborn children in the mother’s womb,” claimed Azaad. He also said earlier the sperm count was around 113 million that has now reduced to almost half, including dead sperms and also abnormal sperms. He said, “Presently, only 30 per cent sperm are presently effective as compared to the ones 50 years ago.”
‘Punjab opting for outdated technology’
Terming the incinerator technology (burning of solid waste to produce electricity) opted by the Punjab Government to set up thermal power plants in all the eight clusters of state environmentalist and public policy expert Gopal Krishan said, “The state is opting for outdated technology that has been discarded by Western world around 20 years ago.” Also, he said, “The technology is banned by the Supreme Court as due to non segregation of the solid waste, it leads to the emission of the toxic gases like dioxin in the air.”
He also said that if state government goes ahead with the proposed technology, it could have serious implications like that of a ‘chemical warfare’ on the health of the people in the state.
Villagers raise doubts over Environment Impact Survey
Villagers raised serious doubts over the authenticity of environment impact survey conducted by a private consultant in 2011. They said that when they asked consultant about identifying the north direction of the site, they failed to do so in the public hearing held on September 30 in 2011. Also, the consultant failed to reply on the distance of nearest residential area from the proposed site, the distance to nearest Gurudwara, distance of Nanak Pindi village and many other queries pertaining to the facts mentioned in the survey report.
Govt should review the technology
Area MLA Pargat Singh said, “There is a dire need to review the incinerator technology being adopted by the state government to save hundreds of villagers from the effect of harmful gases. There is no way villagers will allow the setting up of the thermal power plant in the area. It is high time that the government should either change the site or bring in latest technology approved by the national and international environment agencies.”
Industry too bats for the cause
Apart from the environmentalists and political leaders, noted industrialists from the sports, leather, hand and tool, farmers, sarpanchs of various villages and social welfare organisations participated in the workshop.
‘Govt should pay heed to people’s concern’
While lauding the efforts of former Indian hockey captain for taking up the matter, Seechewal said he was not against setting up of the plant but against the area as it was surrounded by many villages. He said the survey conducted by the Environment Impact Assessment Authority (EIAA) does not hold much significance as it was conducted around four years ago and there has been a tremendous increase in the amount of solid waste generated from the area now. “There is a dire need to assess the environmental impact of setting up the incinerator plant in the area,” said Sant Balbir Singh Seechewal.
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