Thousands of farmers take to the streets against Punjab’s Zira liquor plant

Thousands of farmers take to the streets against Punjab's Zira liquor plant
Thousands of farmers take to the streets against Punjab's Zira liquor plant

In Zira, Mansurwala is becoming another Tikri, with a large number of farmers protesting a distillery in support of the local Sanjha Morcha.

Almost 900 activists representing seven farm unions arrived in Mansurwala today as the protest entered its 152nd day. The next few days may see more follow suit. Friday, Sanjha Mazdoor Morcha members will join the protest.

Tents have already been erected in dozens. Several tractor-trailers laden with food and other supplies have been brought by farmers, indicating they intend to remain here until their demands are met.

Residents of nearly 40 villages protested against the distillery and ethanol plant, accusing it of polluting the environment and contaminating the groundwater. In addition to causing a decline in crop productivity in the area, they claim effluents discharged by the plant pose serious health hazards. Even though the NGT has already given the plant a “clean chit,” attempts to convince the protesters have failed.

It was even ordered by the Punjab and Haryana High Court that the protesters move their dharna away from the plant and allow workers access to it safely.

Last week, Sanjha Morcha representatives met with Bhagwant Mann. In addition to Singh Dhaliwal, state minister Kuldeep Singh Dhaliwal visited the protest site, but protesters said they wouldn’t move an inch until the plant was shut down. It is the right of the villagers to have clean water and air, according to Avtar Singh Mehma from BKU (Krantikari). There will be doom for future generations if the plant is not closed.”

In the early days of the protest, the government should have taken the matter seriously, but did not.” says Sukhwant Singh of KMSC.