Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Monday vowed not to spare anyone found guilty for the Bargari carnage, whether a politician or a police officer, irrespective of their position or high office. Lashing out at the Akalis for failing to bring culprits to book and not accepting recommendations of its own Commission set up to probe the incident, the Chief Minister said the investigations of the SIT set up by his government would reach their logical conclusion soon, and he would personally ensure that nobody found responsible for the horrendous incident is allowed to go free. Pointing out that one senior police officer implicated in the case had already been arrested, the Chief Minister said it was obvious that the officer in question must have been following orders, and the SIT would identify those who issued the orders. They will not be spared at any cost, he declared.
The Chief Minister, who was here to disburse Rs. 97 crore as relief to 18308 small farmers from Bathinda and Mansa districts against debt from cooperative banks, personally handed over debt relief certificates to 10 farmers each from the two districts as a token of the disbursement. peaking on the occasion, the Chief Minister lambasted the previous SAD-BJP government for ruining everything, from agriculture to industry and economy, during its 10-year misrule. The Badals and their cronies were busy filling their own pockets, at the cost of the people’s welfare, he said. His government, said Captain Amarinder, had reversed the trend, with 300 steel factories revived in Fatehgarh Sahib alone. The Chief Minister also flayed the erstwhile government for opening a police station at the Samadh of his ancestor, Sardul Singh, the son of Baba Ala Singh. While his government had not discriminated in giving loan waiver or allocating development funds, the Akalis had behaved in a partisan manner to neglect the development of his ancestral village, Mehraj and Patiala, he said, recalling his visit to the village before the assembly elections. Captain Amarinder expressed happiness at having faithfully implemented his pre-election promise to waive off farm debts and break the backbone of the drug trade. Captain Amarinder said there had been a sharp decline in the number of farmer suicides and a huge decrease in drug trade since his government took over. The Buddy and DAPO programmes were making significant strides in checking drug abuse and helping in rehabilitation of the affected youth, he added.
On the issue of farmers’ problems, the Chief Minister lamented that the Center had failed to come to their rescue despite his repeated pleas. Despite fiscal constraints and the massive Rs. 2.08 lakh crore debt inherited by his government from the erstwhile SAD-BJP regime, his government was reaching out to the farmers with its debt waiver scheme, which would benefit 10.25 lakh of the 17 lakh farming families in the state, said Captain Amarinder. The Chief Minister promised to continue with the farm loan waiver, with the landless labourers also to be covered under a new scheme that the government was working on. The debt waiver scheme of his government, however, was just a small relief to the poor farmers in distress but till they get the right price for their produce, their woes would continue, said the Chief Minister, reiterated his demand for in toto implementation of the Swaminathan Commission report. Farmers were in distress in all the states across the country, he pointed out, urging the central government to come out with a national scheme to help the farming community. Pointing out that Punjab had made India self-sufficient in foodgrains, Captain Amarinder pointed out that even now the godowns in the state were full. In the absence of the Food Corporation of India (FCI) lifting its targeted grains, the state was having to make its own arrangements for storage of the fresh arrivals, he added. The Chief Minister lauded the farming community for checking stubble burning despite the central government failing to give the Rs. 100 per quintal compensation he had been seeking for paddy straw management. It was entirely due to the efforts of the farmers, with support from the state government, that there had been a marked improvement in the quality of air in Punjab, he added. His government, Captain Amarinder pointed out, had spent Rs. 250 crore for subsiding 27500 crop residue management machines. Next year, Rs. 400 crore shall be spent on providing 40,000 more such machines to the farmers, he added.
Listing out some of the other pro-farmer initiatives taken by his government, the Chief Minister said a special special campaign to ensure balanced use of fertilizers led to reduction in Urea and DAP consumption by 1 lac MT and 46,000 tons respectively during Kharif-2018 had resulted in Rs. 200 crores savings over the previous year. He further noted that the campaign launched to educate farmers about judicious use of agro-chemicals on Basmati had helped them improve rice quality and get better remuneration in the international market. The Chief Minister also cited the electronic marketing of agricultural produce and hassle-free procurement of foodgrains among the successful initiatives that were helping the farmers manifold. Underlining his government’s focus on strengthening the rural link roads, the Chief Minister said of the total length of 61000 km of such roads, about 16000 km was being repaired at a cost of Rs. 2000 crore, with the targeted completion scheduled for June 30 this year. This, he said, will be followed by repair of more roads, in phases, to provide better connectivity to the farmers for transporting their produce, in addition to upgradation of infrastructure in the markets. Cooperation Minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa, addressing the gathering, lashed out at SAD President Sukhbir Singh Badal for his statements that Punjab had witnessed no development under the incumbent Congress government. Captain Amarinder had ensured exemplary development in the state, besides eliminating red-tapism and loot of the state’s assets, which was rampant under Akali rule. He also flayed Prime Minister Narendra Modi for making false allegations that no loans had been waived off in Punjab.
The Minister asked the Deputy Commissioners to reconsider the cases of eligible beneficiaries who were left out in getting debt waiver relief due to some technical reasons. He also urged the Chief Minister to issue directions for a survey on the farmer suicides in Malwa region as this was very high as comparative to Doaba and Majha. Power Minister Gurpreet Singh Kangar announced that the Punjab Government would soon amend rules to ensure that weaker sections of the society continue to get free power up to 250 units per month and are charged only for any consumption over and above it. The Cabinet would be meeting soon to take a formal decision on this, he said, adding that, thereafter, the beneficiaries under this category would need to pay only for the excess consumption above their free entitlement of 250 units per month. PPCC president and Gurdaspur MP Sunil Jakhar said that after the success of Punjab’s debt waiver scheme, the BJP-led States were also forced to launch similar programmes. Jakhar appealed to the people to cast their vote judiciously in the forthcoming parliamentary elections to form a result-oriented government at the Center. He lashed out at Modi for his lies and false promises on various fronts. Jakhar also demanded strict action against those guilty of issuing the firing orders in Behbal Kalan and said the then SSP Charanjit Sharma was just an instrument. The event was also attended by Former Union Minister Preneet Kaur, Media Advisor to CM Raveen Thukral, former Minister Charanji Lal Garg, ex-MLA Ajit Inder Singh Mofar, Principal Secretary to CM Tejveer Singh.
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