Stop pollution before bringing Beas water to Jalandhar: Seechewal

JALANDHAR: The recent report of water pollution reported from river Beas leading to the death of countless fishes and aquatic species in the river has raised serious concerns over the Asian Development Bank (ADB)-funded Beas canal water project that would provide potable water from the river to the city residents.

Stop pollution before bringing Beas water to Jalandhar: Seechewal

A view of the Kala Sanghian drain stretch in Leather Complex in Jalandhar . Tribune Photos: Malkiat Singh

Rachna Khaira

Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, May 20

The recent report of water pollution reported from river Beas leading to the death of countless fishes and aquatic species in the river has raised serious concerns over the Asian Development Bank (ADB)-funded Beas canal water project that would provide potable water from the river to the city residents.

According to environmentalist Balbir Singh Seechewal, with the rise of pollution in the Beas, it will be deadly to bring river water here in Jalandhar.

“A few years ago, fishes were found dead in river Sutlej as well. The level of pollution was found so high there that even today, the aquatic life could not be revived. Things have begun to get worse now in river Beas. There is a dire need to make strenuous efforts to end water pollution in the Beas or else, the move will prove deadly for the Doaba residents as well,” said Seechewal.

Slamming the state government, Seechewal said citing fund crisis it has failed to get the rivers clean from pollutants.

“Does fund scarcity give them a licence to kill people by supplying them contaminated water? Even the sewerage treatment plants (STPs) installed by them are inadequate and are not working according to their capacity,” said Seecehwal.

The Beas begins flowing from Kulu in Himachal Pradesh and enters Punjab via Kapurthala district. Once known for its clean and serene waters, the river, for the past several years, has been at the receiving end of waste disposal from both Himachal Pradesh and Punjab.

The Kulu region, from where the river originates, has only 40 per cent of its houses with a sewerage connection to an STP, and the rest goes directly into the river. Upon entering Punjab, the river faces further degradation, as the Doaba region, where the river flows for nearly 160 km is one of the filthiest stretches.

Kali Bein, a tributary of the Beas, is known for its industrial filth, often visible on the banks. The stretch is known for its high level of hyacinth growth, and in summers, when parts of the river dry up, instances of waste coming up on the surface have been reported.

Waste from hotels and households gives effluents a tough competition in polluting the Beas and in 2016, a record 35 hotels were slapped with notices by the Kullu Municipal Corporation (KMC).

In Punjab, though voluntary organisations have attempted to clean up the 160- km stretch in Doaba to stop industrial effluents such as zinc, magnesium, chromium and nickel from factories from running into the river, the recent reporting of the death of countless fishes in the river has once again raised the concern on the issue.

Though Municipal Commissioner Dr Basant Garg claimed that the civic body would go ahead with the canal water project, it may go in for a detailed quality report to assess the presence of water pollutants in the water.

“The issue has highlighted the dire need to save river water from pollutants. Though we are going ahead with the canal water project, we will commission it only after testing the water quality and measures to prevent it from getting further polluted by industrial and other effluents,” said Dr Garg.

‘Punish guilty for death of fishes’

Environmentalist Balbir Singh Seechewal, while expressing grief on the incident where molasses spilled into the Beas, causing the death of hundreds of fish and other species, has raised concerns on the condition of rivers in the state and the ill-effects being faced by people due to pollution. He said those responsible for this sad incident must be punished. He also said that before voting for the Shahkot bypoll elections, which are going to be held on May 28, voters must ask the political party to promise to save the waters of Punjab. During a press conference here today, Seechewal released a poster which read, “Shahkot halke di ik mangg, ganda paani hove band”(only demand of the Shahkot constituency is stoppage of contaminated water). “Saadi vote da ohi hakdar, vatavaran da jo rakhe khyal (only protectors of environment will deserve our vote) read another point in the poster. He said clean water should be main agenda of the elections. Seechewal said such was the menace that many species had got extinct in the Sutlej river which was horrifying.

Beas canal water project: An overview

  • The prime objective of the project is to change the city’s potable water supply source from groundwater to surface water, with the obvious choice being the river Beas, located approximately 40 km to the north-west of the city.
  • The  Beas is perennial due to the consistent releases from the upstream Pong hydroelectric power dam. From an initial review, ADB has found that there are two potential intake locations: Dhilwan, approximately 40 km from Jalandhar on the road to Amritsar; and Miani, and approximately 65 km distant and further to the north than Dhilwan.
  • The Punjab government has also allocated Rs 1,000 crore for the same. However, the contract has assumed significance after the recent reporting of pollutants found in the river that caused harm to the aquatic life. 

The Beas canal water project at Jalandhar 

Title: Supporting the Cities Development Initiative for Asia: Capacity Development 
Value: $ 671,908.00 
Start Date: Feb 6, 2018 
Current status: Feasibility study on

(Inputs from Aakanksha Bhardwaj)

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