Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Tuesday urged Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh for full central government support to the state’s development programmes for the border areas, including a proposed special package for the region.Captain Amarinder was accompanying the central minister on a visit to Hussainiwala in Ferozepur, where the two leaders paid floral tributes to martyrs Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev and Rajguru at the National Martyrs Memorial.The Chief Minister later discussed various issues concerning the development and progress of the border areas, to which Rajnath said the Centre was committed to extend all possible help to the people of these areas and resolve their issues on priority.Pointing out that Punjab had a 553 km long sensitive international border comprising the districts of Pathankot, Gurdaspur, Amritsar, Tarn Taran, Ferozepur and Fazilka, the Chief Minister told Rajnath that his government was considering a special package to create new social and industrial infrastructure, reserve jobs in Government and seats in selected educational institutions for the residents. The new industrial policy of Punjab also provided for special incentives to these areas, he added.Seeking central government’s support in the region’s development, Captain Amarinder urged the Minister to provide a special one-time infrastructure development package for improving the state’s border areas. He also called for acquisition of land lying beyond the border fence by the Government of India, as the same could never be optimally used for agriculture due to security restrictions by the Border Security Force (BSF). Till these pieces lands are acquired, the farmers should be compensated for loss of their livelihood due to border fencing, he added.
The Chief Minister further sought liberal compensation by the Centre for land damaged or rendered ineffective for farming due to periodic military deployment. He reiterated the state’s demand for similar tax incentives and promotion schemes for the region as were being given to the hilly and north-eastern regions of the country. The border roads of this area should be taken up for special development and maintenance under the National Highway Programme, the Chief Minister said, adding that this would provide better access to the paramilitary and armed forces in securing the border while ensuring better connectivity for the region’s development.Another issue raised by the Chief Minister related to the Integrated Check Post (ICP) spread over 118 acres in Attari and used as a major corridor for import and export of various commodities, as well as for cross-border passenger movement, between India and Pakistan. Captain Amarinder urged the Home Minister to consider the establishment of a railway linked CFS/ICD in and around the Attari Railway Station to further boost cross-border trade.
Pointing out that no ICPs exist at Hussainiwala and Fazilka, the Chief Minister said while the CWC had confirmed that it was not commercially feasible to set up a ICP at Hussainiwala, no feasibility study had been carried out by PSWC for setting up ICPs at these centres.The Chief Minister also discussed with Rajnath the issue of MSP support for alternate crops, urging the Centre to consider providing Deficiency Price Payment Support to farmers to help them get crop remuneration as per MSP declared by it for all crops other than wheat and paddy. This, he said, would encourage farmers to shift to cultivation of alternative crops such as maize, soyabean, oilseeds and pulses, thus destroying the non-remunerative wheat-paddy crop cycle.Captain Amarinder later told mediapersons that the state government was fully sensitized to the hardships faced by the residents of the border areas. His government was working closely and proactively with the Centre to resolve various issues related to the farming community, which had a large presence in the region. He pointed out that his government had already come out with a comprehensive loan waiver scheme to mitigate the economic hardships of the state’s distressed farmers.
On the sidelines of the event, the Union Home Minister, along with Captain Amarinder Singh, dedicated a gallery for nearly 2000 visitors built up at a cost of Rs.16.39 crore at Hussainiwala to the nation.The Home Minister, in his address to BSF personnel, lauded their efforts in safeguarding the border areas with utmost sincerity, dedication and valour. He also applauded the role of the women BSF personnel and promised to further hike the quota of recruitment exclusively for women in the BSF as a step towards women empowerment. He also announced a grant of Rs.2 lacs for providing quality food to the BSF soldiers.Among those present on the occasion were Chief Secretary Karan Avtar Singh, DGP Suresh Arora, Divisional Commissioner Sumer Singh Gurjar, Deputy Commissioner Ferozepur Rambir, SSP Bhupinder Singh, Director General BSF KK Sharma and ADG KN Chaubey, besides Ferozepur MP Sher Singh Ghubaya, Ferozepur City MLA Parminder Singh Pinky, Ferozepur Rural MLA Satkar Kaur Gehri and Zira MLA Kuldeep Singh Zira.