Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann Monday gave a clarion call for launching a mass movement to preserve the environment. Chairing a state-level function to mark World Environment Day, he expressed deep concern over the depleting groundwater table and pollution in the state, according to a government statement.
Immediate remedial steps are required to save the only precious and scarce natural resource of Punjab in terms of water along with checking environmental pollution, he said.
This cannot be done by the government alone and people's participation is a must, he said and called for vigorous mass awareness campaigns to sensitise them about its significance, especially in the wake of global warming. Punjab is a sacred land of great gurus and saints who have shown the way to preserve the environment, Mann said.
Quoting the Gurbani, he said the verse "Pawan Guru, Paani Pitaah, Mata Dharat Mahat" explains how our great gurus have equated air (pawan) with teacher, water (paani) with father and land (dharat) with mother. Unfortunately, Mann said, the words of the great gurus "have not been honoured by us as we have polluted all these three".
"Now the time has come when we must imbibe the teachings of 'Gurbani' in letter and spirit to restore the glory of the state," he said. Slamming the opposition parties for "blatantly ignoring" environmental issues, Mann said as water, air and land had no votes so these leaders ignored them.
Due to this, massive pollution and degradation of these natural resources took place thereby causing an irreparable loss to society, he said, adding that after the formation of the AAP government in the state, steps have been taken to save the environment.
Showing deep concern over the gravity of the emerging situation following the fast depleting water table, Mann said almost all the blocks in the state are in the dark zone as far as groundwater is concerned.
Mann said it has happened due to reckless pumping of water in fields, adding that the trend needs to be checked immediately so that future generations do not have to strive for water. The state government is taking massive steps for optimum utilisation of canal water and to preserve groundwater, the chief minister said.
At present, Punjab is using only 33-34 per cent of its canal water, he said, adding that this will be enhanced in the coming days. Mann said if Punjab can enhance canal water utilisation to 60 per cent in the first phase, nearly four lakh tube wells out of the total 14 lakh can be stopped, thereby helping in saving water.