AMRITSAR: Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh, on the historic 75th Independence Day of the country, on Sunday vowed to protect the border state against the nefarious designs of Pakistan, even as he pledged to continue fighting with the farmers for the repeal of the Centre’s black Farm Laws.
Calling for extreme vigil against Pakistan, which continued to try to foment trouble even 75 years after independence, the Chief Minister asserted that while “we want Punjab, but will not tolerate any aggression or attack on our territory.” Addressing the people of Punjab after unfurling the national flag, the Chief Minister declared “we will teach them (Pakistan) the lesson of their lifetime if they try to be adventurous.”
Pointing to the use of drones by the neighbouring country to smuggle arms and drugs into the state, Captain Amarinder warned that Pakistan would not leave any opportunity to take advantage of any vulnerability in Punjab.
Stressing the need to ensure peace in the state to promote the development of industry and the progress of its people, the Chief Minister said his government would not tolerate any threat, including those from gangsters and terrorists. “We will deal with them squarely,” he pledged, adding that “Any threat to Punjab would be a danger to our entire nation.” He disclosed that since his government took over, 47 Pakistani terrorist modules and 347 modules of gangsters had been neutralized, including some key gangsters who had been deported from Armenia, UAE and other countries, with more awaiting deportation.
Later, interacting informally with some media-persons on the sidelines of the I-day function, the Chief Minister expressed concern about the continuing agitation of the farmers and said he had raised the issue recently during his meetings with the Prime Minister and the Union Home Minister. He said he demanded the repeal of the Farm Laws, which were anti-farmer and against the spirit of the Constitution. He made it clear that he would continue to fight with the farmers for the revocation of these legislations, and would not let the sacrifices of those who had lost their lives in this struggle go in vain.
Captain Amarinder Singh said, “The fight against these Black Laws is not political. It does not matter who is in power where. We need to stand by what is right and to ensure that our rights under the Constitution are not crushed. Had some of the other political parties heeded my repeated implorations in June last year to unitedly articulate our deep concerns before the Centre, this situation might not have arisen.”
In his official address, the Chief Minister spoke about the legal efforts made by his government to get the sacrilege cases back from the CBI, to which the previous SAD-BJP government had handed over the 3 FIRs they had registered, along with another 3 in the Kotkapura and Behbal Kalan firing cases. Since taking over the cases from the CBI, chargesheets have been filed in four cases against 23 persons and 15 police personnel have been suspended while 10 persons have been arrested, he said, adding that 10 challans have been presented so far.
Referring to the gains made by his government in its fight against the deadly menace of drugs, pointing to the 47,510 cases registered under the NDPS Act and the 216 ‘big fish’ (caught with 5 kg or more of heroin) arrested so far. More than 7 lakh patients are undergoing treatment as part of the de-addiction programme, he added.
In the context of the Covid situation, the Chief Minister spoke about the exemplary service of all medical personnel, while thanking the people of Punjab for effectively combating the menace. However, he stressed the need for continued vigil to ensure that the pandemic does not return. The government was in the process of setting up 5 new medical colleges, besides upgrading the existing ones, he added.
The Chief Minister expressed pride in the performance of the 20 boys and girls who had brought laurels to the state in the recently concluded Tokyo Olympic Games and said besides the cash rewards, government jobs would be given to all of them. He, however, personally felt all this was not enough to appreciate their achievements, he added.
On the employment front, the Chief Minister said 62,748 Government Jobs have already been given, while 7.4 Lakh youth have been facilitated for private jobs and another 10.9 lakh for self-employment. The process for providing 1 Lakh Government Jobs is currently underway, he added.
Lauding the hassle-free and record production of wheat and paddy under his watch, Captain Amarinder thanked all the Farmers, Arhtiyas, labourers and staff of agencies for helping him realise his promise that every single grain of the state’s farmers will be procured. He also spoke about the Rs 4700 crore debt relief given to 5.83 lakh farmers as well as the increase in Kharaba. Pointing to the power subsidies paid last year to farmers, industry and SCs/BCs, he reiterated that these would continue till he is ruling the state.
The Chief Minister also cited the measures taken by his government for the welfare of Dalits, OBCs and the poor, including hike in pension and Shagun amount under Ashirward scheme, as well as the re-launch of the SC Post Matric scheme, which the Central Government had abruptly suspended. More than 14,000 loanees of SC and BC Corporation have been given Debt Relief at a cost of Rs. 52 crore, he added. He further said that a Museum dedicated to Babasaheb Dr. BR Ambedkar Ji in IKG Gujral Punjab Technical University, along with an Institute of Management, are being established.
Listing women welfare as another key priority, the Chief Minister pointed to the reservations provided to them in PRIs & ULBs as well as government jobs, besides free bus travel, with GPS and Panic Buttons installed in buses for their safety.
On the welfare of servicemen, he disclosed that 82 next-of-kin of Martyrs have been given jobs in the state government, with another 15 set to be given jobs soon. This is in addition to the increase in ex-gratia to the families from Rs 12 lakh to Rs. 50 lakh, he said, adding that 4300 Guardians of Governance are working across the state to ensure that the benefits of schemes reach the citizens.
Noting that NREGA was a complete failure under the previous regime, he said that his government had spent Rs. 3820 Crore and generated 1,165 Lakh man-days under the scheme. He also cited the Smart Village Campaign and Mission Lal Lakir among other initiatives taken for rural development. Further, he said that all 35 lakh rural domestic households in the state are set to be covered with piped tap connections by March 2022.
At the same time, said the Chief Minister, urban development also continued to be high on his government’s agenda, with initiatives like the Urban Environment Improvement Programme and Basera for slums making a difference to the lives of urban people. With 89% urban population already having access to piped water supply, the entire state shall be covered by 31st March 2023, he said, adding that canal-based water supply was now being supplied to major towns.
“Our policies have been greatly appreciated by the people in the urban areas, which is reflected in the huge mandate given to the Congress party in the Municipal elections,” he noted, thanking the people for the same.
Noting that for the first time ever Punjab has been ranked No. 1 in the country in terms of school education, the Chief Minister also listed various measures taken to improve education, not just in schools but also at higher level. While 6 new degree colleges have already commenced classes, 12 are set to start this year and another 25 degree colleges have been sanctioned, he added.
Expressing satisfaction at the fast-paced growth of Punjab economy from 2018 to 2020, with Rs 93,500 crore of industrial investment on the ground since April 2017, he expressed the confidence that before December 2021, this figure will touch Rs. 1 Lakh crore. 55% new Factories have already started commercial production, he added.
Terming himself to be blessed to be part of the historic occasions of the 550th Prakash Purb of Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji and the 400th Prakash Purab of Ninth Sikh Guru Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji, the Chief Minister said once the Covid situation improves, the latter will be celebrated as warranted by the occasion. The 350th Birth Anniversary of Baba Banda Singh Bahadur Ji also could not be celebrated due to Covid but the state government will shortly install a statue of the legendary Sikh General in Sirhind, he said. Terming the closing of Kartarpur Corridor as a big casualty of the Covid, the Chief Minister again requested the Government of India to take up the matter for its early opening so that the Sikh Sangat can have Khulle Darshan Didar.