Jangveer Singh, Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, January 5. For the first time, ecology will become an issue in the state assembly elections with environmentalists floating a front that will vote for candidates committed to an agenda which supports sustainable livelihood, including health security.
The environmentalists, led by the Kheti Virasat Mission, include the BKU (Rajewal), the BKU (Ekta) and Sidhupur factions. These organisations have pockets of influence in Bathinda, Mansa, Amritsar, Tarn Taran and Hoshiarpur districts. Former Takht Damdama Sahib jathedar Giani Kewal Singh is a member of this mission.
The “Vatavaran Ate Samaj Bachao Morcha” has met politicians of all hues and will meet them again to elicit their commitment, based upon which it will lend support to different candidates. Morcha head Umender Dutt, who has been championing the cause of orgnanic farming besides leading farmers’ movement against GM crops in Faridkot district since 2005, says the SAD-BJP government has failed to take affirmative steps to protect environment.
He says the attempt to clean riverwaters has failed but hastens to add that things were no better during the earlier Congress rule.
“We want all political parties to formulise a development model with a paradigm shift in agriculture practices”, says Umendra. This includes a commitment on organic farming and a no to GM crops. Besides, the environment group wants the government to ensure health security for all farmers and the setting up of a cancer hospital in Bathinda. Umendra claims opening a private hospital in the cancer belt will not help small farmers at all.
Umendra says the group will also demand an institute for environment health research and studies. He says an ecology audit is needed to understand the damage caused to environment and how that can be rectified. The activist says a state-level water conservation drive should be launched with a time-bound action plan to rejuvenate old water bodies.
He says this is necessary as 108 of the 138 blocks have been designated as ‘dark zones’ with the ground water level abysmally low.
Umendra says an environment commission should be constituted to take up environment conservation. The morcha led by him has called for earmarking budget for promoting sustainable agriculture, including organic farming.
Morcha to back candidates commited to organic farming
Who say no to GM crops
Who promise Health security for all farmers