Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Thursday announced a slew of projects for the border areas, including a government medical college in Gurdaspur and a new sugar mill in Batala.The Chief Minister, who was here to hand over debt relief certificates worth Rs. Rs.156.12 crore to 26,998 farmers from six districts, also announced steps to upgrade the cooperative sugar mill at Paniar in Gurdaspur for making it economically viable.Pointing out that the third instalment of the debt waiver certificates were being distributed on the auspicious occasion of the Parkash Utsav of ninth Sikh Guru Shri Guru Teg Bahadur ji, the Chief Minister said his government has also decided to give financial assistance worth Rs. 50,000 each to the landless labourers to bail them out of the current agrarian crisis.Responding to the demand raised by Gurdaspur MP and PPCC chief Sunil Jakhar, the Chief Minister told the gathering that the state government had already made a budgetary provision for setting up a medical college at Gurdaspur to provide the best healthcare and diagnostic services to the people. He asked Jakhar to identify suitable land in consultation with the local MLA for the proposed medical college.
As a token gesture, the Chief Minister handed over debt waiver certificates to five farmers one from each of the six districts of Gurdaspur, Pathankot, Amritsar, Tarn Taran, Nawanshahr and Hoshiarpur on the occasion. He disclosed that so far debt relief to the tune of Rs. 457 crore had been disbursed to nearly 1.02 lakh farmers in three different phases, covering the 16 districts of Mansa, Bathinda, Faridkot, Muktsar, Moga, Fazilka, Ferozepur, Jalandhar, Kapurthala, Ludhiana, Amritsar, Tarn Taran, Gurdaspur, Hoshiarpur, Shaheed Bhagat Singh Nagar and Pathankot.The Chief Minister said that after completing the debt relief scheme of cooperative loans, the state government would soon begin the waiving off farm debts from commercial banks, which would be completed by the end of the year.The Chief Minister pointed out that despite the massive financial crisis facing the state, his government was giving the maximum financial assistance to the farmers in terms of debt waiver relief up to Rs.2 lac. This was the highest in the country, he said, pointing out that in case of Uttar Pradesh it was Rs.1 lakh, while the states of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra were waiving off only Rs 50,000 each.
The Chief Minister shared the concern expressed by Jakhar over the logjam in Parliament, and cited media reports to point out that Rs.9 crore loss was being incurred per day and nearly Rs.190 crore had so far gone down the drain on this count. He also lashed out at the Opposition, including the Akalis and the Aam Aadmi Party, in Punjab for trying to disrupt proceedings in the Vidhan Sabha, but lauded the Congress MLAs for ensuring that the budget session went off smoothly, in the interest of the state’s welfare.Speaking earlier, Jakhar also flayed the NDA Government on the issue of GST on Langar at Sri Darbar Sahib, and on the issue of compensation to the Iraq victims. He also accused the Centre of deliberately overlooking the interests and rights of Scheduled Castes, and referred to the 10% reduction in budget under the Post Matric Scholarship Scheme. Jakhar further said he would once again raise the concerns of the farming community in Parliament tomorrow.Criticizing SAD President Sukhbir Singh Badal, Jakhar dared him to start a Padyatra from Pathankot to Delhi over the farmers’ issues, including debt waiver. It was Captain Amarinder Singh’s Government which had waived off debt upto Rs. 2 lakh while Akalis had only exploited the farmers with hollow promises, he added.
Speaking on the occasion, Rural Development and Panchayats Minister Tript Rajinder Singh Bajwa criticised former Chairman Mandi Board Ajmer Singh Lakhowal for blatantly ignoring the rights of the farmers. He reiterated his commitment to bring transparency in the functioning of the Panchayats.Education Minister Aruna Chaudhary said that the previous Government had recklessly ruined the State and its assets but, under Captain Amarinder Singh, the Congress government was constantly working for the overall welfare of all sections of the society, with special emphasis on farmers and the underprivileged.MLA from Dera Baba Nanak Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa thanked the Chief Minister for honouring his Government’s promise to bail out the distressed peasantry, reeling under enormous debt burdens. He lambasted the Akalis for exploiting the farmers and failing to get the Swaminathan Commission report implemented.MLA Gurdaspur Barindermeet Singh Pahra blamed the Akalis for financial mismanagement, which led the State at the brink of economic disaster, while MLA Fatehjang Singh Bajwa lauded the pro-poor and farmer friendly steps taken by the Captain Amarinder Government.Prominent amongst others present on the occasion were MLAs Balwinder Singh Laadi, Arun Dogra, Sunder Shan Arora, Dr. Raj Kumar Chabbewal, Rajnish Kumar Babbi, Sangat Singh Gilzian, Harpartap Sinah Ajnala, Raj Kumar Verka, Tarsem Singh, Sukhbinder Singh Sarkaria and Dharambir Agnihotri.