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Mann gives in, scraps textile park proposed near Mattewara forest

Mann reportedly said the project would not only lead to water pollution in the area but also entail felling a considerable number of trees in the vicinity.

Punjab CM Bhagwant Mann.

Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann Monday scrapped the proposed textile park project near the Mattewara forest area in Ludhiana for “saving the precious water resources and woods of the state”, the move coming less than a fortnight after he informed the Vidhan Sabha that 954.51 acres out of the total 1000 acres needed for the project has been acquired.

“I will like to announce that not only in Mattewara, but the state government will also not allow any industry to come up on the river banks of Punjab to avoid any sort of water pollution,” said the chief minister.

Reacting to the development, Congress MLA and Leader of Opposition Partap Singh Bajwa said the move shows the government’s lack of commitment and CM’s inexperience.

He said the AAP, as the opposition party, had opposed the project “before implementing it when they came to power, to only now withdraw it” due to public pressure. “This constant flip-flop is an embarrassment and shows the lack of vision AAP has for Punjab,” Bajwa said in a tweet.

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Mann made the announcement following a meeting with the members of Public Action Committee (PAC), an NGO spearheading the protest against the setting up of a mega integrated textile region and apparel park, citing environmental concerns given its proximity to Mattewara forest and Sutlej river. On Sunday, environmentalists, religious leaders, politicians, activists and the common people had held protest at Sekhowal village near Mattewara forest on a call given by the PAC to oppose the project under the PM-MITRA scheme.

PAC’s Jaskirat Singh said that the CM, during their half an hour long meeting, categorically said that the textile park will not come up on the land, which, he said should be used for biodiversity. Jaskirat said that the CM assured them that the government would speak to the residents of Mattewara area and provide them with new employment avenues.

Mann bemoaned that former CM Capt Amarinder Singh gave nod to this project, without “even thinking about its pros and cons”. “The proposed project site is located near the Mattewara forests and on flood plains of river Sutlej. But the Captain government totally ignored the castigating effects which this project will have on the environment and ecology of the state,” said Mann. He said that apart from cutting of trees, this project would have also led to “massive pollution in the river water thereby jeopardising the human life along with flora and fauna” in the region.

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Mann said his government minutely studied the project and found that this will “disturb the ecological balance of the area”.

He said, “Keeping in view the repercussions of this project on the environment and human life, the state government has decided that no industrial unit will be set up on this land. Rather, the Punjab government will preserve these ‘green arteries’ of the state by all means.”

Mann said his government is ready to allot any new chunk of land for this proposed textile park with the condition that it does not pollute the waters of the state. He reiterated the firm commitment of the state government to check the environmental pollution for making Punjab clean, green and pollution free.

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Punjab had, during Amarinder’s tenure, sought a textile park — one of the 13 mooted under the Mega Integrated Textile Region and Apparel Parks (PM MITRA) scheme — from Centre for Punjab. One of the basic requirements for this project is that the state government should have the availability of encumbrance-free land of 1,000 acres for this project. A chunk of 927 acres land belonging to animal husbandry and other departments was identified and a case was put up before Centre.

The project was then red-flagged by locals and environmentalists, expressing fear that it would disturb the biodiversity of the Mattewara forest area and would also pollute Sutlej river.

After taking over, the AAP government had proceeded with the file work related to the project. Mann, while speaking in the recent budget session in Assembly, had defended the park stating that not a single drop of effluent would be discharged into the Satluj river.

However, even after CM’s assurance, protests were taking place and a morcha was being planned by various organisations and political parties against setting up of the park.

 

First published on: 11-07-2022 at 04:01:06 pm
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