Friday, Aug 19, 2022
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In The Deep End

Eco-activism has Punjab’s polluters in a tizzy

In The Deep End Sarbjit Singh

Operation Clean-Up

  • Industrial and organic pollution from the Sutlej and the Beas is affecting southern districts of Punjab and parts of Rajasthan
  • A popular movement straddling both states and helmed by eco-activist Baba Balbir Singh
  • Seechewal has the election-bound state government worried
  • Seechewal organised a massive exercise to prevent the Kala Sanghian, a highly polluted Sutlej tributary, from draining into it

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The industrial and organic pollution of major rivers like the Sutlej and Beas in Punjab has continued without impediment for years, bringing death and disease not only to Punjab’s southern districts but also to Rajasthan, into which the waters of the two rivers have streamed via the 2,000-km Indira Gandhi canal. It has taken a people’s movement spread across the two states to get Punjab’s jittery, election-bound government on tenterhooks and put its industrial lobby on the defensive. Ironically, the campaign is led by a member of the Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB), Baba Balbir Singh Seechewal, the state’s best known environmentalist and the most vocal critic of the PPCB.

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