The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) on Friday condemned the Punjab government for removing noted environmentalist Balbir Singh Seechewal as a member of the Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB).

Seechewal was removed as PPCB member days after the National Green Tribunal (NGT) slapped Rs 50 crore fine on Punjab government for polluting Sutlej, Beas rivers. This fine was slapped on the report of a committed formed by the NGT comprising environmentalist Seechewal, along with members from the pollution control boards of Punjab and Rajasthan and the Central Pollution Control Board to look into the matter.

Seechewal committee report contradicted the Punjab government’s claim that 33 of the 34 sewage treatment plants (STP) along Buddha Nullah and Kala Sanghian Drain were functional.  It found that only one STP was functional. The rest were either non-functional or not treating sewage or industrial waste properly.

Condemning the move to remove Seechewal, SAD said it was especially painful that the religious personality who had rejuvenated the Kali Bein rivulet associated with Guru Nanak Dev had been insulted in such a manner on the 550th Birth Anniversary of the great saint.

In a statement here, former minister and SAD spokesperson Daljit Singh Cheema said Seechewal had carved out a name for himself combining self help philosophy with the environmental essence of Gurbani.

“He should have been selected for special honour during celebrations of the 550th Parkashpurb of Baba Nanak as he has cleaned and rejuvenated the Kali Bein. Instead of doing this the Congress government has insulted Sant Seechewal and all right thinking environmentalists by removing him as member of the PPCB,” he added.

Cheema said the Punjab government was in urgent need of Sant Seechawal’s expertise not only to clean its rivers but also its village ponds. He said however it seemed that the government was in no mood to even listen to constructive criticism.

Stating that the environment movement in Punjab would also suffer after Seechewal’s removal from the PPCB, Cheema said there was an urgent need to broad base the movement by involving more volunteers. “All right thinking individuals however will think twice before associating with the Congress government on environmental matters”, he added.

Cheema asked the Congress government to immediately reinstate Sant Seechewal as member of PPCB, saying this was necessary to encourage public trust in environment protection activities being taken up by the Pollution Board.