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| Last Updated:12/09/2020

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Activists to intensify campaign against water pollution

Tribune, Delhi, 1st September, 2014 Say industries based in Jalandhar, Ludhiana dumping toxic waste in the Sutlej and Sirhind canal Raj Sadosh Abohar, August 31 Women activists, who filed a petition in the National Green Tribunal, have decided to intensify their campaign against industries based in Jalandhar and Ludhiana, which dump toxic chemical waste in the Sutlej and the Sirhind canal. “Savera”, an NGO, is spearheading the campaign. Recently, the tribunal had told the Centre and the Punjab Government to file detailed replies in a PIL on unchecked pollution of canal water. After organising a dozen meetings in various cities, Hanumangarh Zila Parishad chairperson Shobha Doodi and vice chairperson Shabnam Godara said in Hanumangarh today that the Acharya Tulsi Regional Cancer Treatment and Research Institute had seen a steep rise in the number of patients. They said 8,000 fresh cases had been recorded. They said Punjab was one of the most prosperous states in India, but this prosperity came at a price. Shabnam said indiscriminate and unscientific use of chemicals on land had made it medically and environmentally unsustainable. The petitioners said that Abohar and Fazilka villages, which they had recently visited, had witnessed a spurt in the number of deaths. “Cancer carries a stigma and no one wants to talk about it. Several people in Punjab suffer from cancer due to intensive use of chemicals in its fields. Moreover, the highly mechanised farming has taken a toll on the water table,” Shobha said. Montek Singh Ahluwalia, Deputy Chairperson of the Planning Commission, while releasing the plan for states for 2012-13 said the Malwa region of Punjab, a cotton-growing belt, had the highest incidence of cancer in India. The state government had still not taken corrective measures to tackle the problem, Shabnam said. “There has been no decline in the number of follow-up cases either. In 2009, the Bikaner-based hospital received 6,138 new cases and 45,357 follow-up cases. In 2010, there were 6,295 new cases and 45,189 follow-ups. In 2011, new cases decreased to 5,787 and follow-up cases to 43,189. However, still 60 to 70 per cent of the new cases are from Punjab, the hospital authorities had confirmed in a report,” Shobha said. They said though some of the Rajasthan Vidhan Sabha and Lok Sabha members had responded to their letters and raised the issue in respective houses, more needed to be done. They said eminent environmentalist Sant Balbir Singh Seechewal had assured them of extending cooperation whenever awareness campaigns would be organised in the Malwa region.