The Punjab Governor Prof. Kaptaan Singh Solanki today sought a solution to the river water issue through the implementation of the nationally and internationally accepted Riparian Principle on the distribution of river waters, which has been implemented across the country to resolve river water disputes.In his address during the fifth and concluding budget session of the 14th Punjab Vidhan Sabha, the Governor cited that Punjab was predominantly an agricultural state and 27% of its agricultural land depended on river water for irrigation and 72% on tube well irrigation. Agriculture scientists and meteorological experts were unanimous in their view that if the current trend of reliance on tube well irrigation water continues, the state could turn into a desert in very near future. Thus, the state desperately needed to move away of from such heavy dependence on tube-well irrigation and the only solution to the danger that looms large over our heads lies in Punjab's right on the waters of its rivers being safeguarded, for which the state government had been consistently seeking a solution to this problem since long, he added.
Dwelling on the saga of injustice and discrimination meted out to Punjab, the Governor said that people of the state have also been heavily discriminated against by a brazen refusal of the Governments of India to transfer its Capital City- Chandigarh to Punjab. Similarly, he mentioned that several Punjabi speaking areas were left out of the state at the time of reorganization in 1966 and have still not been included into Punjab. He appealed to the Government of India to address and remove these instances of discrimination and injustice.On the tax concessions given to some of Punjab's neighbouring states that have caused a major blow to Punjab’s economy, the Governor pointed out that due to these concessions, the Punjab entrepreneurs no longer have a fair, competitive and level playing field. He, however stated that his government was not against giving these concessions to any state but this must not be done by hurting the economy of our sensitive border state adding he said that these tax concessions should be given to Punjab also. Prof. Solanki also demanded that Punjab should be compensated liberally for the massive loss which its economy has already suffered because of this discrimination.
Referring to long-standing denial of justice and relief to the victims of the worst carnage in the history of independent India, the Governor said that the massacre of thousands of innocent Sikhs in October-November 1984 was just one of those issues. He said that there has been detailed documentation of these traumatic events and there was clear evidence of the direct involvement of the high and mighty of those days. But because of the massive political clout enjoyed by the killers, looters, rapists and arsonists in this grave human tragedy, no action has been taken against them so far. In fact, the guilty were allowed not only to go scott free but also rewarded with high and powerful positions, including Cabinet berths in the government and ruling party of that time. “My government demands that the guilty of the massacre of 1984 be given exemplary punishment without any further delay” he added.Meanwhile, the Governor pleaded for liberal relief and compensation for the victims of this tragedy to restore their faith. Welcoming the gesture of the NDA government at the center in increasing the compensation amount to victims to Rs.5 lakhs , Prof. Solanki however said that still lot was required to be done.
Highlighting major issues pertaining to the religious beliefs and sentiments of the Sikh community that needed immediate attention, the Governor impressed upon the Government of India to expeditiously resolve all legitimate issues of the brave and patriotic Sikh community. These included issues about their religious identity, the problems faced by them in several other countries, the community's aspiration for a direct and unhindered access to their religious shrines in Pakistan, such as Sri Kartarpur Sahib, and constitutional acknowledgement and preservation of their religious and cultural practices etc.
The Governor asserted that the state government firmly believed that a federal structure was best system for our vast country full of rich and variegated diversity of cultures, religions, languages etc. He saluted the Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi’s initiative in putting the country on the road to becoming a genuinely federal country.
Prof. Solanki said that the Prime Minister had already backed his words with concrete action as the Planning Commission was abolished and replaced with Niti Ayog with Chief Ministers being made direct stake holders in national planning. This was an announcement of the Government of India's resolve to liberate our system from excessive Unitarism of the previous governments. Several other steps were taken to push this federal impulse further up, the most important of these steps being the raising of the share of states in central taxes from 32% to 42%. He opined that it was just the starting point of the much needed restructuring of the constitutional system to make it genuinely federal. The process of fiscal autonomy and administrative and political decentralization needs to be taken further towards its final natural goal: complete and genuine federal structure in the country.Expressing deep anguish over the recent serial incidents of sacrilege of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, the Governor said, “In recent months, the body, soul and mind of Punjab and the country – in fact the entire human kind – were traumatized by the shocking and painful serial acts of sacrilege against Sri Guru Granth Sahib ji, a sacred light-house of divinity, peace, love, compassion and human brother-hood for the entire humanity”.
Prof. Solanki said that treating these acts of sacrilege as the most heinous in nature and a grave threat to peace, the state Government came down with a heavy hand against the perpetrators of these ghastly acts of crime. As a result of this firm government response, out of a total of 13 cases of sacrilege against Sri Guru Granth Sahib ji, as many as seven have already been traced, the accused arrested and made to face the law of the land. Of the remaining six such cases, two have been referred to the highest investigative agency of the country, the CBI. The agency would also investigate another case relating to the pasting of objectionable posters on the wall of a holy Gurdwara Sahib. “All the remaining cases are being actively investigated as a matter of top priority”, he added.The Governor reiterated the state government’s commitment to ensure the strictest possible punishment under the law to the perpetrators of this outrage. As a concrete and firm step in the direction, the Punjab Cabinet took a decision to enhance the quantum of punishment for such acts from three years to life imprisonment under section 295 A of the IPC.
“My government assures the people of Punjab in the most emphatic words possible that all those guilty of such heinous crimes will be dealt with under the strictest possible provisions of law and no one found guilty will be allowed to go Scott free” he added.The Governor further said that the people of Punjab faced serious challenges from Fidayeen and other enemies of the country operating from across the border during the past year. He said that the state government overcame all these challenges with firm administrative response, political sagacity and a whole -hearted cooperation of the people. The attacks at Dina Nagar and Pathankot were effectively and completely defeated by the combined might of the armed forces, the Punjab police and all the various wings of the security forces. At Dina Nagar, the leadership and constabulary of the Punjab Police working in tandem with the brave people of the town single-handedly confronted and defeated the highly motivated, dangerously armed and professionally trained group of killers.
Likewise, the Governor said that the successful response at the Pathankot airbase was one of the finest examples of men of the armed forces functioning in a perfectly coordinated manner with other agencies such as the Punjab Police. The Punjab Police provided credible, reliable and concrete advance intelligence. As a result, this became the first security operation of its kind in the country in which the NSG was able to deploy itself at the destination even before the aggressors reached there. This House fully endorses the pride of Punjabis and the nation in the matchless and exemplary courage demonstrated by our brave and patriotic officers of the army and other security agencies, especially the Punjab Police. “I also salute the people of Dina Nagar and Pathankot who came out bravely to support army and the police in this hour” added Prof. Solanki.The Governor felicitated the people of Punjab for successful conduct of the Khadoor Sahib by-poll in a most peaceful, free and fair manner. He said that the result of the Khadoor Sahib by-election was a forceful endorsement of the programmes, the policies and the performance of state Government. Prof. Solanki rated Peace, communal harmony and all round development of the state as the top priorities in these policies and programmes.
The Governor said that the outcome of the Khadoor Sahib by-election was a continuation of the winning streak maintained by the Alliance partners in state Government during the past four years. The Alliance has in fact won five of the six by-elections to the state assembly held between 2012 and now. In many of these by-polls, seats changed hands between parties in favour of the partners in the government. The state Government was inspired by a positive agenda for governance, which was first spelt out before the people of Punjab just ahead of the February 1997 assembly elections in the state. In nearly twenty years since then, the people of Punjab have adjudicated upon the seriousness and the sincerity of government’s commitment to these sacred principles in four full scale assembly elections. On three of these four occasions or in fifteen of those 20 years, Punjabis have reposed complete faith and given full marks to the SAD-BJP alliance Government. The Alliance, which was a phenomenon without a parallel in the history of the state, withstood and defied vicious and baseless propaganda in 2012 to register an unprecedented, back-to-back mandate to serve the people of Punjab.
The Governor said that in between, the alliance partners in government have received unmatched and massive thumbs up from the Punjabis in every civic elections including the polls to the Municipal and Corporation Elections and Panchayat elections, demonstrating how deep-rooted and widespread were the bonds of trust between the Government and the Punjabis across the rural and urban length and breadth of the state. “It is sad and unfortunate that some elements and outfits chose to abdicate their responsibility towards their electorates and boycotted the Khadoor Sahib by-poll. But people of this holy town minced no words in demonstrating their preference for peace, communal harmony and development, over the politics of disruption, lawlessness and negative ideologies such as cynical opportunism. They defied and rejected the boycott with 58% polling percentage” he added.
As a matter of fact, not only this House but every Punjabi could walk taller as the state's destiny was in the hands of someone whose stature and grandeur were matched only by his humility and compassion. One of my predecessors in this office once described Mr. Parkash Singh Badal as a "Saint Statesman". His devotion and dedication and his untiring zeal for working among and for the humblest of the humble of citizens in his state mark him out as a saint while his statesmanship and visionary leadership continue to steer his state to newer and newer heights in every sphere. It came as no suprise this year when Mr. Parkash Singh Badal was bestowed the nation's second highest award, "Padma Vibhushan".The Governor further said that since the formation of the NDA government at the centre, Punjab has received some major and crucial development and other projects. These include selection of Sri Amritsar Sahib as Heritage City, including Jallianwala Bagh at Sri Amritsar Sahib among Cultural World Heritage Sites, sanction of a Post Graduate Horticulture Research and Educational Centre and of an All India Institute of Medical Science (AIIMS) and IIM in the state. Combined, these were certain to put the State into a new and higher orbit of development in various fields. The state already has an ISB and IIIT also.
The Union Government's Budget for 2016-17 also brought us a spiritually morale- boosting project of Rs. 100 crores for the anniversary celebrations of the Tenth Master Sri Guru Gobind Singh ji. The new emphasis on farmers and farming was also good news for Punjab's brave and hardworking peasantry. One of the most remarkable announcement by the Government of India for Punjab was the Smart City Project for Ludhiana with Rs 1000 crore lay out. This industrial town of Punjab has been chosen to be amongst only 20 cities in the country to figure in this list of select cities. Similarly, 16 municipal cities of Punjab have been allocated Rs 4228 crore under the AMRUT scheme.The state government firmly believes that in a democracy, the citizen was the King and has a right to expect the government to accountable, clean, humble, transparent and accessible round the clock. The pioneering Sangat Darshan programme truly symbolizes the supremacy of the common man to whom the government goes as a servant to solve his problems. The same vision underlies the series of ground-breaking governance reforms undertaken by the state government. These reforms were aimed at ensuring that people get their solutions sitting at home, hassle free and as a matter of right. It was a matter of pride for all of us that many other states and even the Government of India have expressed keen interest in studying these reforms for adoption.
In recent years, there has been a refreshing changing in how people across the world have begun to see Punjab today. In this regard, I am glad to share with this august House that the state has won laurels in virtually every sphere from institutions and organizations of national and international eminence. Punjab has been tipped as Number One State by the World Bank for "Ease of Setting Up New Businesses" in its report for 2015. To be considered good for ease of business, a state has to achieve excellence in quality of governance, law and order situation, power supply, road, rail air and internet connectivity, industrial climate and human resource development and availability. The state has won top awards in all these spheres plus more.Nothing sums up the quality and performance of the state government better than the "Best Governance Practice" award bestowed upon it by Government of India. Punjab was a power surplus today and it has received A+ rating from the Government of India. It has also gone on to win 'the Best Performing State' in renewable energy, showing the government's emphasis on clean energy. Despite reaching optimum levels of performance in agriculture production, the state continues to make fresh waves in productivity, securing "Policy Leadership Award 2013".
The prestigious Krishi Karman Award won by Punjab for 2013-14 was a tribute to its hard working farmers and also to the visionary of the Chief Minister of the state Government, Mr. Parkash Singh Badal.Meanwhile, the Governor briefly highlighted the significant achievements of the state government in the fields of Agriculture, Animal Husbandry and Dairy Development and Fisheries, Power, Industries and Commerce, Education, Health and Family Welfare, Medical Education and Research, Home Affairs, Jail and Justice, Local Government, Welfare of Schedule Castes and Backward Classes, Social Security, Women and Child Development, Finance, Irrigation and Drainage, Water Supply and Sanitation, Rural Development and Panchayats, Revenue and Rehabilitation, Excise and Taxation, Food, Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs, Cooperation, Housing and Urban Development, Defence Services Welfare, Freedom Fighters, Civil Aviation, Science Technology and Environment, Labour, Employment Generation and Training, Science Technology and Environment, Technical Education and Industrial Training, Transport, NRI Affairs, Personnel, New and Renewable energy, Sports and Youth Services, Tourism, Cultural Affairs and Governance Reforms.
In his concluding remarks, the Governor wished to emphasize that the state Government has its priorities well defined, its course well charted, its approach constructive and its vision broad and far-sighted. From day one, it has sought to build Punjab as an edifice of peace, harmony and all-round development. Putting an end to an atmosphere of confrontation and promoting political consensus and cooperation have always been the principle priorities of the state Government, which would continue to be so in future also.Prof. Solanki mentioned that the state Government has accorded very high respect to the voice of the Opposition and fully recognized its constructive role in a democracy. This belief and this commitment would continue to guide and determine the approach of state Government towards all shades of political opinion in future also.
At the same time, the Governor pointed out that the state Government assures the people of the state that that peace and communal harmony would be continue to be its highest priority adding that peace would be safeguarded at all costs. “Fully convinced that this is a task which is sacred to all Punjabis, my Government has been reaching out to every organization, every institution, every person and party seeking and offering cooperation for building a Punjab which is proud of its past and confident of it present and future” remarked the Governor.“I am sure that all of you, as learned representatives of the people, will continue to contribute to the success and glory of our state through constructive and dignified and discussion and debate” he concluded.