Ludhiana, Punjab: Even after spending more than ` 200 crore on the cleanliness of Buddha Nullah drain in recent years; the drain remains as dirty as ever.
In fact, the putrid waters are now claiming another victim, the animals and the birds that inhabited the area around and added colour and spark to the ecology of the area.
The poisonous water has killed many fishes, aquatic animals and birds and is also impacting the living of the people around the area with boatmen and the others losing out on a living or having to replace their boats and equipment far more frequently than in the previous years.
TWO COLOURS OF THE STREAM
The pollution problem is so severe that two shades of water are visible at Wallipur Kalan village, where Buddah Nullah meets Sutlej, the master stream, touches Jalandhar. The colour of the water on the Ludhiana side is jet black, while the natural glow of water is seen on another side of river from Jalandhar starts.
THE BOATMAN’S LAMENT
Manga Singh, 58, a boatman has seen the pollution levels in the nullah rise steadily over the past three decades. He plies a boat near Walipur and Talwandi Nau Abad villages, where the Buddha Nullah meets Sutlej. “The first time I changed by boat was after 12 years of using it. Then, people could even bathe in it. Now, I need to change my boat every year as the wood gets spoiled due to the pollution.”
He added that his heart longed for the time when the river would retain its natural look.
“All the different kinds of fish here have died. Even birds used to sit on clean water side area of Sutlej, but not on the polluted water-side area,” he said.
Baljeet Singh, a resident of Walipur village, said, “In spite of teams collecting samples, no solution has been found. The problem started in the 1970s. It was even called the Buddha Dariya when it was clean.”
A city-based environmentalist, Jagjeet Singh said, “The government should set up a project to clean the polluted water of drain at the place where it meets with the Sutlej.”
Following a complaint filed against the Punjab government with the National Green Tribunal, New Delhi, that polluted water was causing health problems for people in Rajasthan, the state government that around 50 sewerage treatment plants and common effluent treatment plants will be installed in the areas by 2015.
MC commissioner Pradeep Kumar Agarwal said a Delhibased company, Engineers India Limited, was preparing a detailed project report to ensure the cleanliness of Buddha Nullah. He said the Punjab Water Supply and Sewerage Board was the nodal agency for the project.