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Zira factory protests: Administration identifies properties of over 500 protesters for violating HC orders

Punjab CS announces five committees to probe all the pollution allegations; two committees, soil and animal husbandry, will visit the site in Mansurwal village on Friday

The administration has identified properties of more than 500 protesters for violating Punjab and Haryana high court orders as the protests continued outside Malbros International Private Limited, an alcohol-making unit, in Mansurwal village of Zira assembly segment in Ferozepur on Thursday.

“As per directive of the high court, we have, through an affidavit, submitted details of 220 protesters with their property details while work on identifying properties of around 300 protesters is on. Some of the protesters belong to other districts of the state,” said Amrit Singh, deputy commissioner of Ferozepur.

“We are in wait-and-watch mode. We will take further action against defaulters, as per further orders from the high court,” she added.

In the meantime, Punjab chief secretary VK Janjua formed five high-level committees, as promised by chief minister Bhagwant Mann, to look into various allegations of pollution levelled by the protesters. Mann met the protesters last week and promised that various government committees would look into all the allegations against the liquor unit.

As per CS’ orders, all committees have been directed to submit reports within ten days and representatives of protesters must be included during the probe.

To probe allegations of pollution, the three-member committee includes the chairman of the Punjab pollution control board (PPCB), the principal chief conservator, Forest, and the member secretary of PPCB, as per the CS orders.

To check ill-effects on health, the committee comprises Dr Rakesh Kakkar, professor and head, department of community medicine, AIIMA, Bathinda, Dr PVM Lakshmi, professor of epidemiology, department of community medicine and school of public health, PGIMER, Chandigarh, Dr Ravinder Khaiwal, professor (environmental health), department of community medicine and school of public health, PGIMER, Chandigarh, and Dr Gagandeep Singh Grover, assistant director, department of health and family welfare, Punjab.

Meanwhile, the director of research, PAU, head of the department of soil science, PAU, and head of the department of soil and water engineering, PAU, will examine the effects of alleged pollution on agriculture, water and soil, in the vicinity of the unit.

Dr SS Randhawa, director of vet clinics, GADVASU, Dr Jasbir Bedi, director of the centre for one health, GADVASU and Dr SK Sharma, professor and head department of vet pharmacology, GADVASU, will probe the adverse impact of alleged pollution on cattle.

Two committees, soil and animal husbandry, will visit the site tomorrow.

Protests continue

In the meantime, protesters’ representatives, who have been included in these probe committees, declared that they may not join the probe until all their demand of withdrawal of all the cases against the protesters was met.

“None will join the probe committees until all the cases registered against protesters are withdrawn and all the arrested protesters are released, their suspended arm licenses are revoked and government assures that there will be no hindrance to protesters from joining the agitation in future,” said Sandeep Singh Dhillon, a member of the committee, which met CM.

The protests entered the 150th day even as workers entered the factory to get it ready to start production. As per factory officials, it will take time to resume operations even though about 75 of its employees entered the unit and commenced maintenance and related work.

“We need 4-5 days to restart the factory and run it to its full capacity, but for that, normalcy is the utmost requirement. There should be no more disruptions,” said Pawan Bansal, chief managing director of the alcohol-ethanol unit.

“We are abiding by the law and doing nothing illegal. We won’t resist knocking on the door of the apex court again, if need be,” Bansal asserted.

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