Thousands protest against textile park at Mattewara
Chandigarh : Thousands of social activists, environmentalists, farmers, students, NGOs, politicians, and many others reached Ludhiana to protest against the Punjab Government’s proposed textile park near Mattewara forest and Sutlej. People from all walks of life — young and old, men and women — came together to hold a massive protest at the project site to send a strong message to the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) led State Government.
The protestors, who were assembled to “save” the planned project site, claimed that if the textile park is built, it will lead to the devastation of the forest area and floodplain of Satluj. They further alleged that the textile plant will cause immense loss to the ecology and biodiversity of the area.
Even though the Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann had recently assured that no chemical industry will be permitted in the area since it pollutes river waters, the environmentalists argued that the proposed industry will have a disastrous impact on the river waters.
Meanwhile, the Public Action Committee (PAC), a group of environmentalists working against the project, organised a public rally to save the Mattewara forest and Sutlej. Senior Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and Congress leaders along with a number of other farmer and social organisations joined the rally by the PAC.
Leaders of the Public Action Committee, farmers’ organizations, Akali Dal and Congress said that if the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) brought industry here, a union against the move would be formed in the coming days. All the speakers during the event demanded the cancellation of the project.
The event saw attendance from prominent farmers’ union leaders including Baldev Singh Sirsa, Balbir Singh Rajewal, Manjit Singh Dhaner and others. Among the political leaders who participated in the protest include the newly-elected Sangrur MP Simranjit Singh Mann, Punjab Congress president Amrinder Singh Raja Warring, Patiala’s former MP Dr Dharamvir Gandhi, Congress MLAs Pargat Singh and Sukhpal Singh Khaira, and Akali leaders including Maheshinder Singh Grewal, Manpreet Singh Ayali, and Hardev Arshi.
In a tweet, Khaira said that his party will continue to oppose the project until the government withdraws its “anti-Punjab decision”.
PAC member said that Mattewara forest is the only surviving forest in central Punjab; and putting up an industrial park right next to it will kill the forest, which is spread over 2,300 acres. He added that the project’s proximity to the Sutlej could make matters worse for the already heavily polluted river.