Baba leads people to plug polluting drain

Thousands of affected people followed Punjab’s best known eco-activist Baba Balbir Singh Seechewal, on Wednesday, to block the intensely polluted Kala Sanghian Drain which is known to dump lakhs of tons of poisonous industrial effluents directly into the river Sutlej.

This one of a kind direct action in the state attracted 1,500 volunteers all the way from neighbouring Rajasthan where Sutlej waters are a primary source of drinking and irrigation in several areas.
Baba Seechewal, who was among Time magazine’s 30 Heroes of the Environment in 2008 and has been widely hailed for his commitment to cleaning Punjab’s rivers, had given the state government until today morning to stop the toxic flow in what he said was a “drain of death.”
“Lakhs of people residing in Punjab and Rajasthan are suffering because they are forced to drink water that is poisoned by this drain. The industries that are callously dumping chemicals into it clearly constitute a powerful lobby and hence the government and its agencies choose to turn a blind eye,” he said.
Premised on a painstaking physical verification that included many days and nights of surveillance Baba Seechewal and his people estimate that scores of upstream industrial units discharge untreated waste into the Kala Sanghian Drain.
They demanded punitive action including the closure of the factories until they can demonstrate compliance with anti pollution laws.
In the mean time, the activists plan to push ahead on plans to clean out the drain and initiate a massive private tree plantation drive to try and mop up toxins from the earth in surrounding areas.
And stirring only after the huge embarrassment of today’s peoples’ action, the Jalandhar district administration finally stepped in to help complete what should have been its job in the first place.

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