The plans by the Punjab government to set up an industrial park close to the protected forest range of Mattewara near the Sutlej river have civil society and NGOs up in arms. The cycle valley, the proposed industrial park, could discharge effluent into the Sutlej river, which is already heavily polluted. The state government is using its power to stifle protests.
Environments are concerned about the danger to the water body and the forests from the cycle valley. The governing body of one of the villages, called a panchayat, has refused to hand over land for the project.
Presence Of Cycle Valley And Another Industrial Park Will Harm The Ecology Of The Mattewara Forest
The cycle valley project is already moving ahead in full steam nearby covering over 100 acres and will cost Rs.380 crore ($517 million). The Dhanansu cycle valley is within a 10-kilometer distance of the forest of Mattewara covering 2,300 acres. According to the statement of the Deputy Commissioner of Ludhiana, the cycle valley comes within a 3 to 4-kilometer distance from the industrial park.
Sath, a student organization based in the capital city of Chandigarh has contacted villages of the nearby villages of Sekhowal and Salempur. Sukhwinder Singh, a member of Sath, and a rights activist said that the proposed industrial park was too near the boundary wall of the forest.
His organization has promised support to villagers in their protest against the exploitation of natural resources and the danger it poses to wildlife in the forest area. They are also disturbed about the pollution it will inevitably cause in the region, threatening both their health and livelihood.
Several villages fall under the project area, with Sekhawal village standing to lose 500 acres to the industrial park.
Dr. Sandeep Jain, an animal welfare officer said that the presence of a cycle valley and a second industrial park within the 10-kilometer radius will cause extensive loss to nature. They have said that both projects will be extensively monitored.
The government of Punjab is set to create a land bank for industries that they expect will shift from China, according to Sibin C, the director of Commerce and industries, Punjab. The state government has announced industrial parks of around 1,000 acres and more in several districts of the state.
All image credits: The Hindustan Times