Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann on Monday announced to launch a massive drive to preserve the flora and fauna of the state along with recharging the water table to save water for our coming generations. Addressing the gathering after laying the foundation stone of the Chitti Bein here today, the Chief Minister said that Punjab is a sacred land of great Gurus and saints, who have shown us the way to preserve the environment.
He said that following in the footsteps of the Gurus, the state government will soon embark upon a massive campaign to preserve the natural resources of the state. Bhagwant Mann said that while there is no dearth of funds for this noble cause, he called upon people to support it and make the campaign a mass movement.
The Chief minister, while quoting the Gurbani, said ‘Pawan Guru, Paani Pitaah, Mata Dharat Mahat’ explains how our great Gurus have equated air (pawan) with teacher, water (paani) with father and land (dharat) with mother. Unfortunately, the word of the Gurus has not been honoured by us, as we have polluted all these three, he added.
Bhagwant Mann said that now the time has come when we must imbibe the teachings of Gurbani in letter and spirit to restore the glory of the state. The Chief Minister, while slamming the opposition parties for blatantly ignoring the environmental issues, said that as water, air and land had no votes so these leaders ignored them.
He said that due to this massive pollution and degradation of these natural resources took place thereby causing an irreparable loss to the society. Bhagwant Mann said that after the formation of the AAP government in the state steps have been taken to save the environment.
The Chief Minister said that since long the successive state governments had also ignored the core sectors of health and education. However, he said that after the formation of his government complete transformation of these sectors have taken place.
Bhagwant Mann said that due to strenuous efforts of the state government Punjab will soon be a front ranking state across the country in these sectors. The Chief Minister said that the state government is taking massive steps for optimum utilisation of the canal water to save the groundwater.
He said that at present Punjab is using only 33%-34% of its canal water adding that this will be enhanced in the coming days. Bhagwant Mann envisioned that if Punjab can enhance the canal water utilisation to 60% in first phase then nearly four lakh tubewells out of total 14 lakh can be stopped thereby helping in saving water.
The Chief Minister said that in a unique endeavour aimed at the well being of the farmers, the state government organised first of its kind Sarkaar-Kisan Milni to bail them out from the ongoing agrarian crisis. Bhagwant Mann said that due to ever escalating input costs and diminishing returns agriculture is no longer a profitable venture and the farmers of the state are on cross roads.
He said that the sole motive of organizing this interaction is to reduce the gap between decision makers and stakeholders so that policies are designed as per the needs of the farmers. The Chief Minister said that after deliberations from this milni, the state government has decided to make canal water available from April 1 for cotton crop cultivation to the farmers.
He said that the water supply has been ensured in the cotton belt of the state so as to make sure that cotton cultivators are benefited in a big way. Bhagwant Mann said that massive efforts have been made to ensure uninterrupted and adequate canal water supply reaches at the tail ends.
The Chief Minister said that in a major pro-people initiative, the state government has launched ‘Sarkar Tuhaade Dwaar’ scheme which stipulates that the officers especially the Deputy Commissioners and Additional Deputy Commissioners maximize their field visits, especially in villages, and interact with the people by going to villages. He said that it is the need of the hour to facilitate the people in getting their day-to-day works done easily besides ensuring good governance to them.
Bhagwant Mann said that this will help in better functioning of the offices along with better acquaintance with the ground realities. The Chief Minister reiterated that instead of Satluj Yamuna Link (SYL) canal, the project should be now conceived as Yamuna Satluj Link (YSL).
He said that Satluj river has already dried up and there is no question of sharing even a single drop of water from it. Rather, Bhagwant Mann said that water from Ganga and Yamuna should be supplied to Punjab through Satluj river to cater the needs of state.
The Chief Minister further said that keeping in view the larger public interest, the state government has changed the timings of office from 9 am to 5pm, to 7:30 am to 2 pm. He said that this decision will act as a catalyst in saving the people from scorching heat that is expected to be witnessed in the coming months.
Bhagwant Mann said that this decision will enable a common man to do his work early in the morning without taking leave from his work adding that this will also facilitate the employees as they will be able to attend the social functions after the office hours. Meanwhile, the Chief Minister also announced that the villages of Hoshiarpur district, who are willing to become a part of Shaheed Bhagat Singh Nagar district, will be sympathetically considered by the state Cabinet. He also announced to upgrade, widen and strengthen the Garhshankar byepass.
On the occasion Cabinet Minister Brahm Shankar Jimpa, Deputy Speaker of Punjab Assembly Jai Kishan Rauri, Rajya Sabha MP Sant Balbir Singh Seechewal and others were also present.