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2 years & a role reversal: How AAP changed its stance on project near Mattewara forest

Back to Tuesday, things, however, saw a role reversal when CM Mann, in a reply to his own party MLA Hardeep Singh Mundian said, “We will make sure that not even a drop of Sutlej gets polluted due to this textile park."

Written by Raakhi Jagga | Ludhiana |
Updated: July 15, 2022 9:36:18 am
Mattewara forest in Ludhiana

Just two years ago in July 2020, the opposition AAP MLAs had called the proposal of ‘textile park’ to be set up on 1,000 acres near Mattewara forest in Ludhiana an “ill-conceived” project.

The then party president Bhagwant Mann had said that the Congress government was not bothered about the environment. While Kultar Singh Sandhwan, the then Kotkapura MLA who had visited the site, said that AAP will expose the double standards of the Congress government, then leader of opposition Harpal Singh Cheema, condemning the Congress, said that the industrial park will distrurb the flora and fauna of the forest with noise pollution, air pollution and heavy human activity.

Back to Tuesday, things, however, saw a role reversal when CM Mann, in a reply to his own party MLA Hardeep Singh Mundian said, “We will make sure that not even a drop of Sutlej gets polluted due to this textile park. All environment clearances will have to be taken and the pollution control board will regularly monitor the area.” Mann added that the park is not related to discharge of chemical effluents. Mundian expressed concern over jobs to the villagers whose panchayat land has been acquired for the park as he stated that a few km away from this location a cycle valley is coming up in Dhanansu village over 100 acres and they don’t give jobs to the village boys and girls whose land was acquired. Mann stated that it will be assured now that jobs will be provided as per qualification and a quota for the same will be fixed for all villages whose land is being acquired.

Activist and member of Public Action Committee (PAC) Kuldeep Singh Khaira, who has been protesting against the project, called out Sandhwan’s hypocricy and said, “When he was in the opposition, he used to go with us to various government offices to get the matter raised that industry near Sutlej and even near a forest will disturb the ecosystem and will pollute the river. Now the same person, when he is the Speaker, replied to the CM that the textile park will not pollute the river.”

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Khaira added that Sandhwan used to say that AAP will expose the double standards of Congress and now they themselves are showing double standards. While the CM, in his reply in the House, stated that villagers had no objection to the project and panchayats had been paid compensation for the land, the gram sabha of Sekhewal village had passed a resolution against the project saying that the stakeholders were not taken into consideration, said Khaira.

The textile park is among seven such projects by the Centre on 1,000 acres each. A total of 957.49 acres have already been acquired in a few villages near Mattewara forest . The CM on Tuesday said, “Total 453.4 acres have been acquired Garhi Fazal, Haider and Garcha villages while 493.99 acres are under Sekhewal, Silkiana and Salempur villages. The entire area is a single chunk of land and the remaining 45.51 acres will also be acquired soon.” The CM added that they have sent a proposal to the Centre seeking to invite investments and job opportunities.

Two years ago when the project was conceived, it was named Mattewara textile park owing to its proximity to Mattewara forest range.However, following public outrage, it was renamed ‘Modern Industrial Textile Park, Koomkalan’ by 2020 end. Environment activists then constituted a PAC a year ago to register their protest.

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Jaskirat Singh, a member of PAC, said, “AAP MLAs used to support us in our agitation against this project and now they are not only setting up the textile park but is also inviting investments. The location is very close to the forest range and it will disturb the ecology of the area. We will oppose it and start a pakka dharna at the site
soon if the government does not step back.”

Farm unions have also extended their support to the PAC for organising a pakka dharna at the site.

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First published on: 29-06-2022 at 05:59:02 am

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