<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>At a time when river water-sharing agreement with Haryana has become an emotive issue for political parties in poll-bound Punjab, but remain silent on water-pollution, residents of villages in Jalandhar and Kapurthala have united to raise the issue of polluted river waters of the state.Residents of as many as 25 villages in Jalandhar which lie along the banks on Kala Sanghia drain which flows in the region have asserted that they will not vote in the Assembly elections until the problem is addressed.One of the major tributaries of Satluj river, Kala Sanghia drain merges with Satluj through Chitti Bein. It then goes to Harike, from where drinking water is supplied to Malwa region.“It has been 10 years since residents are bearing the brunt even as effluents from tanneries, electroplating industries are being continuously discharged into the drains. At least one person in every family is suffering from some disease due to this,” said Punjab’s noted environmentalist, Balbir Singh Seechewal who has been spearheading the campaign with residents.Apart from the stench that remains hung in air all through the day, the industrial discharge has also polluted the groundwater in the region. Ludhiana being the industrial hub, the effluent from all the major industries, including leather industries, electroplating is all discharged into the rivulets and drains.Pressing upon the urgency of the issue, Seechewal said, “The government has raised alarm about depleting water-levels, but nothing is being done to prevent the existing water bodies from poisons. The manifestos of the political parties are silent on this issue, but this time, we have vowed to make it a poll agenda.”As per the environmental water quality index prepared by Central Pollution Control Board, water in 58.8 per cent of water sources in the state are not satisfactory. Ecologists highlight that presence of heavy metal is also leading to Cancer, skin diseases, birth defects and other deficiencies.“It is an issue of grave concern, especially for villages situated along the river banks. Various scientific studies have proved the presence of heavy metals, including lead and chromium, beyond permissible limits. The solution is not only setting up of more sewage treatment plants, but effective functioning of the existing ones,” said Professor V K Garg, Centre for Environmental Science and Technology, Central University of Punjab.