Akali leaders’ opposition has stalled four of the five solid waste management projects in Punjab, with the latest casualty being the plant that was expected to come up at Jamsher village in Jalandhar district.Local MLA Pargat Singh refused the Chief Parliamentary Secretary’s post over the issue, forcing the state government to scrap the project in a bid to placate him. The proposed plant was supposed to cater to 27 urban local bodies in the Jalandhar cluster. The residents of about nine villages around the site, led by Pargat, had threatened to immolate themselves in case the plant was set up in the vicinity.Similar projects are also in limbo in the districts of Patiala, Ludhiana and Amritsar, with Bathinda being the exception, even though the government has been spending lakhs of rupees to acquire land and get sanction for the purpose.
Sources said the project was partially functional in Bathinda due to the intervention of the ruling Badals, while vote-bank politics was a major stumbling block in other districts.In Patiala, the Municipal Corporation has failed to run the plant that would recycle solid waste of 26 municipalities from Barnala, Sangrur and Patiala districts, apart from the 240 metric tonnes of waste generated in Patiala city every day.Despite a 20-acre site being finalised for the Rs 150-crore project at Dudarh village, Cabinet minister Surjit Singh Rakhra has announced to “make any sacrifice to stop the project.” Ironically, he had approved the project when he was the chairman of the Planning Board.The project in Ludhiana is stuck due to political and other issues. In Amritsar, Akali MLA Inderbir Singh Bolaria has been at odds with the Akali leadership over the setting up of a solid waste management plant.The urban-centric BJP is steering clear of the issue as almost all such plants would come up in rural areas. The Opposition Congress is also playing it safe. When contacted, Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee Lal Singh senior vice-president said such plants should come up “but the government must ensure that the local farmers and villagers are taken into confidence.”Local Bodies Minister Anil Joshi was not available for comment.