Jalandhar, September 16
Residents of Bakhunangal village in the district put up a strong opposition against filling a sewage pond at the village for the ongoing construction of the Jammu-Katra Highway here on Saturday.
Villagers have been holding a dharna by the pond seeking a new pond in place of the previous one, which has been covered by highway project authorities.
They said mostly Dalit families were affected after the plugging of the sewage pond. They also took up the issue with Local Bodies Minister and Kartaprur MLA Balkar Singh who reached the site to review the ongoing construction work on the highway.
Staging a dharna at the site under the Pendu Mazdoor Union, Dalit workers of the village said they would not allow the construction of the highway until a replacement sewage pond was provided to them.
Gurpreet Singh Cheeda, PMU Youth Wing leader, and local leader Paramjit Kaur Miko said without any alternative arrangements, the sewage ponds of the Dalit houses of Bakhunangal Colony were sold to the highway construction company. They said the private company, MKC, was hired to build the highway and it started to fill the pond.
The leaders said due to the filling up of the pond, the sewage was flowing back into houses and women of the houses had to remove it by hand. They said the company deposited Rs 40 lakh in the account of the Bakhunangal gram panchayat for the construction of the highway.
On September 6, the villagers started a dharna near the sewage pond demanding to stop highway construction work. The union leaders said on the ninth day of the dharna, on September 14, the company managers had to agree in writing to villagers that the company would not carry out highway construction work until an alternative pond was arranged.
The leaders said it was after this that the union allowed the construction of the highway on the other side of the highway.
Union leaders said during Cabinet Minister Balkar Singh’s visit today, he also spoke in favour of the private company, without seeking solution to the villagers’ problem. It was during his visit that union leaders and some villagers took up the issue of the alternate sewage pond with him.
Villagers said they won’t allow the construction until an alternate pond site — to drain the village sewage and waste water — was provided.
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