Amritsar, Punjab: Even as the threat of displacement looming large over Sikh families in Gujarat’s Kutch region has become a major political issue in the state, the SAD-BJP Government is “unaware about the exact problem”.
Talking to mediapersons after administering oath to newly elected sarpanches today, Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal said: “We will take up the matter with Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi. At present, we don’t know the exact reason behind the Punjabi farmers’ woes. We will soon send someone to Gujarat to get to the bottom of the matter. It is our duty to protect the interests of Sikh families.”
Replying to another query, he blamed the Centre for rising inflow of drugs into the state. He said despite apprising the Centre of the problem, the latter had failed to act on it. He said the Union Government had not even banned the open sale of poppy husk in Rajasthan, which was a bane of Punjab.
Addressing a gathering on the occasion, Badal announced that the state government would soon double the number of beneficiaries being covered under the atta-dal scheme from the present 15 lakh to 30 lakh. He said they were also contemplating to facilitate atta-dal to the poor at much cheaper rates.
He claimed all the new thermal plants would start functioning in six months. “Within a year, Punjab will be a power surplus state. We will also sell power to other states.”
Badal also hinted that the sarpanches would be given more powers in future, but did not elaborate much on the issue. Congratulating the newly elected sarpanches and panches, he said the rural population had entrusted them a huge responsibility of ushering in an era of development in the state. He said they should join hands with the government in this Herculean task by effectively monitoring the ongoing development works in their respective areas. Cabinet ministers Bikram Singh Majithia, Gulzar Singh Ranike, Surjit Singh Rakhra and Anil Joshi, besides MP Rattan Singh Ajnala were also present.
The CM said farming had become economically unviable in the state due to various reasons like rising prices of fuel and agricultural inputs. He exhorted the farmers to shift from water-guzzling crops like paddy and diversify to crops like basmati, maize, soyabean and even dairy farming. He said with the Union Government drawing its foot from purchasing paddy, it was the need of the hour that Punjab farmers should adopt crop diversification.
Source: The Tribune