CHANDIGARH: Rebutting the allegations leveled by the leader of opposition Sunil Jakhar in a section of press regarding the diversion of money, favoritism in disbursement of grants and mis-utilization of funds by political leadership and administration meant for the housing scheme for SCs and economically weaker sections of society in Muktsar district, the Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal categorically denied these misrepresented facts terming them as “totally baseless, factually incorrect, politically motivated and highly misleading”.
In his reply on the floor of the House on the concluding day of the winter session of the Punjab assembly, the Chief Minister said he was greatly perturbed over the wild accusations leveled by none other but the most respected leader of the opposition Sunil Jakhar, whom he always held in high esteem. Badal said, “If this issue was raised by any other member of opposition, I would not have been surprised. But I am shocked that Sunil Jakhar raised this issue, despite of the fact that he is fully aware of the gravity of the situation of Water Logged Areas in District Muktsar especially Lambi constituency”.
He said he was perturbed over Jakhar’s baseless charges despite the fact the leader of opposition’s own constituency was hardly 20 miles from his constituency and moreover the prevailing conditions in both these constituencies were almost similar and extremely difficult.
The Chief Minister lamented that decency demanded that Jakhar should have atleast clarified these facts from him before issuing this statement and he would have happily provided all the relevant details and facts to the leader of the opposition saying, “All my life I have had the greatest respect for the opposition and I would continue to observe this tradition till my last breath”.
Highlighting the plight of waterlogged areas of the state, the Chief Minister pointed out that nearly such 1.50 lakh acre of the state, of which 1.37 lakh acre was in Muktsar district. In Lambi constituency alone 52,000 acres was worst affected by the problem of water logging, which was nearly one third of the totally water logged areas of the state. Badal said that water logged area resulted in low crop production coupled with poor economic condition of the people in the region besides continuous damage to infrastructure including water works installations, Government Buildings, Veterinary Dispensaries, schools, Hospitals, Roads above all the worst affected were the houses. He said that the pucca houses have been severely damaged while Kuccha houses of the poor have been destroyed due to water-logging.
The Chief Minister said that even the World Bank realized the gravity of situation and agreed to treat the water logged areas at par with Kandi area or Border belt for the purpose of collecting beneficiary share while constructing new water works.
Badal said that the state government had been making all out efforts to resolve this acute problem which was evident from the fact that the SAD-BJP government spent Rs 315 crore on the anti water logging measures during its last tenure as compared to merely Rs 6.65 crore spent by the Congress government in their regime.
The Chief Minister informed the house that the concerted efforts of the SAD-BJP government in impressing upon the Ministry of Water Resources especially the Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh for finally getting the project of relining 100 kilometre stretch of Rajasthan Feeder and Sirhind Feeder at a cost of Rs 1,441 crore sanctioned, of this 100 kilometres, nearly 80 kilometres lies in Muktsar district.
Expressing gratitude to the Prime Minister for his benevolent gesture, Badal said he continued his efforts to stamp out water logging from the state and finally got another project of Rs 960.62 crore sanctioned from the Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh, who himself visited the water logged areas to find a permanent solution to the problem. Observing the plight of the farmers, Ramesh had said, “I am shocked to see this acute problem which has devastated the area”.