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MLA, sarpanch at odds over Rs 45L sewage water project

MLA, sarpanch at odds over Rs 45L sewage water project

Officials at the site approved by the Panchayati Raj Department for the sewage water project at Sahungra village in Nawanshahr. Tribune photo



Tribune News Service

Avneet Kaur

Jalandhar, October 3

Despite receiving government approval in April this year, the much-hyped Rs 45-lakh Sewage Water Project in Sahungra village, located in Balachaur tehsil, is encountering significant delays attributed to local political disputes. The project’s implementation has reportedly been hindered by strained relations between the village sarpanch and Balachaur MLA.

Notably, NRIs from the village have invested Rs 26 lakh to acquire two acres of land dedicated to sewage water disposal. The project boasts of all requisite approvals and funding but gets bogged down due to postponements.

Sarpanch Rajbalwinder Singh, a young leader, initiated the project in 2019, envisioning it as a solution to purify wastewater for agricultural use in a village plagued by contaminated water for a quarter of a century.

For this Rs 45 lakh project, a grant of Rs 20 lakh was sanctioned by the Panchayati Raj Department, with Rs 24.6 lakh allocated by the Land and Water Conservation Department. An additional Rs 1.09 lakh was collected by the panchayat. The project, overseen by the Soil Conservation and Rural Development Department, is designed to manage wastewater from three ponds for agricultural irrigation.

The sarpanch claims that petty politics has become a stumbling block in the project’s progress as officials from both departments feel the pressure from the local MLA who opposes the project’s execution without her support.

He said over 100 NRIs from the village had voiced their concerns before the Punjab Chief Minister through email, urging his intervention to expedite the project.

“Despite my efforts, including communication with top officials, no action has been taken,” he said. He said he also submitted a complaint to Vijay Sampla, former chairman of the National Commission for Scheduled Castes, resulting in a notice to the district administration on May 15, which received no response.

However, when contacted, MLA Santosh Kataria refuted the allegations as baseless. She cited a sit-in protest in the village, led by some residents who oppose the project due to concerns about wastewater passing through their part of the village. Kataria emphasised the need for the sarpanch to engage with these opposing residents and garner village-wide support before proceeding. She also informed that she had invited the sarpanch for a meeting related to the project, but he didn’t turn up.

Meanwhile, the SDO, Soil Conservation Department, Balachaur, Devinder, said the grant for the project had been received, but highlighted disagreements between certain villagers and the panchayat regarding its execution. His team’s efforts to conduct a survey faced resistance, following which attempts were made to convince villagers through meetings, but to no avail.

The SDO underlined the fact that they can’t carry out the work without the support of the residents of the village as it might lead to law and order problems.

Project to manage wastewater

For this Rs 45 lakh project, a grant of Rs 20 lakh was sanctioned by the Panchayati Raj Department, with Rs 24.6 lakh allocated by the Land and Water Conservation Department. An additional Rs 1.09 lakh was collected by the panchayat. The project, overseen by the Soil Conservation and Rural Development Department, is designed to manage wastewater from three ponds for agricultural irrigation.

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