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Punjab Govt
February 26, 2008


Punjab roars in Delhi at Akali Dal's Insaaf Rally
Surging crowds bring Delhi to a stand still as Rajnath Singh blast Centre


New Delhi, February 26: In words that were clearly not just a clarion call but a warning to the Centre to wake up from its deep slumber, Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and BJP spearhead Rajnath Singh today demanded a "complete and total waiver" of the agricultural loans of the state, an immediate end to the discrimination against Punjab's industry in the form of incentives to neighbouring states, give a twin package for farm and industry for the border state that has repeatedly fended for India and consistently fed it. The Rally also warned the centre against interference in the religious affairs of the Sikhs."If the Centre does not desist from trying to split the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbhandhak Committee on a state-wise basis, it will have to face the wrath of the whole Sikh quom," declared the SGPC president Jathedar Avtar Singh.

The BJP national president Rajnath Singh also struck an emotional chord when he declared that the Sikhs can never compromise on their pride and self respect. He demanded a moratorium on interest on all farm loans and a total waiver of interest on the existing farm loans. He declared that when the BJP-led NDA assumes power after the ensuing elections. He said that as a "son of the soil" he would ensure that the Farm Income Insurance Scheme was implemented in full, as originally envisaged by the previous NDA government. He vehemently opposed any "interference in the internal affairs of the Panth."

The gathering also passed a unanimous resolution demanding "total tax holiday for trade and industry in the Punjab." The Resolution also

Addressing the Insaaf Rally in what is widely believed to be the biggest gathering of Punjabis in living memory , conceived and organized by Shiromani Akali Dal's youthful new President and MP Sukhbir Singh Badal, the Chief Minister minced no words in bringing out the stark contrast in Centre's policies when it came to tackling the grave farm crisis in Punjab and elsewhere. That the rally spilled way beyond Delhi's historic Ram Leela Grounds venue was something which lent an aggressive edge to the just demands of Punjab.

The roads leading to the rally venue were choke-a-block since last evening and caught the local administration by surprise, notwithstanding the many measures it had taken to tackle the expected sea of humanity. Privately, many Akali Dal and BJP leaders conceded that the people of the state surprised even them with their enthusiastic response to the call of the young president of the SAD to display the full spectrum of Punjabi might in Delhi. "The government of India recently announced a package of Rs. 15,000 crore for the beleaguered farmers of Maharashtra. What stops the Centre from replicating it in Punjab? Is it not true that the previous Congress regime has left a staggering agricultural debt of Rs 26,000 crore? Then is it not the duty of the Centre to shun its callous and indifferent attitude towards a state celebrated in the country for its sacrifices to safeguard the freedom and hard work to ensure its food security?" Mr. Badal asked, eliciting a round of cheer and clapping the likes of which Ram Leela Ground had not heard in years.

The rally suddenly came to life and reached a higher crescendo when Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal rose to speak. Choosing to enunciate and elaborate Punjab's demands in a forceful, modernistic and scientific but earthy idiom, Mr Badal Jr. put across a formula that was simple and devastating in its logic. The Lok Sabha MP echoed the best brains in farm studies in the world when he demanded a direct linking of Minimum Support Price (MSP) with the over all price index without any further delay, a logic that nor Centre can beat and no vested interest can call a political game.

Both, the CM as well as the SAD President, had come armed to the teeth with cold facts, hard hitting empirical data and sound economic logic. They underlined the state of the crisis quoting a national survey which pegged the per farming family debt in Punjab at Rs. 41,000, the highest in the country.

"Had the Congress been serious or even alive to the problem, the farming community would not have been pushed so deep into the vicious cycle of debt trap," Mr. Badal said. His words and logic were enough to explain why Congressmen in Punjab had not picked up the Akali Dal's gauntlet to join the rally if they really cared about the state and its peasantry.

The four-time Chief Minister who himself hails from a farming family and is known for his understanding of the nuances of farm economy, said that with a stagnant MSP, a negative approach of the Centre and ever rising input prices, agriculture was no more a profitable occupation but the Centre was just not prepared to shun its old ways. Quoting an authority as established as Dr. M.S. Swaminathan, Mr. Badal said a rule of the thumb formula was that the MSP should be equal to the cost of production plus 50%. He said that Punjab had been bleeding itself to keep the blood in national arteries flowing, exhausting in the process its natural resources like ground water and soil texture, but earned merely poverty, humiliation and depression, watching its farmers ending their lives and the Centre remaining apathetic.

Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal, who has spent the past few weeks meticulously planning and executing the rally to its finest details, succeeded in bringing the state's issues into the national lime light, that too right in the national capital.

Taking up the cause of the beleaguered industrialists of the state, the SAD President pointed out that the indifferent attitude of Centre had forced the domestic industry to shift its base from Punjab to the neighbouring hill states of Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and J&K "which lured our industry using the temptations of better incentives and concessions, all provided by none other than the Govt of India."

Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal left no one in doubt when he said that the one big purpose of today's massive 'Insaaf Rally' was to mount pressure on the Centre to immediately announce the much needed package on twin fronts of agriculture and industry, both of which were on the brink of a disaster.

The SAD President, clearly aware of the other crucial area necessary to shore up development plans, also unveiled his vision for turning Punjab from a power-deficit to a power-surplus state within the next three-and-a-half years. He announced that three new thermal plants at Rajpura, Talwandi Sabo and Baluana were being set up and the day was not far when Punjab would be selling surplus power to other states. Incidentally, it is a matter of record that the previous Congress regime did not add even a single unit to Punjab's power generation.

The SAD president who took over the party's reins less than a month ago, triggering a new wave a enthusiasm in rank and file, turned the focus on another crucial domain when he said that rural education in Punjab was being accorded top priority and the SAD-BJP government was committed to not only setting up one Adarsh school in each block of the state but had also embarked upon an ambitious programme to upgrade at least three existing schools in each of Punjab's 117 constituencies. This will be in addition to the ongoing endeavour to upgrade the existing infrastructure in the schools. Skill upgradation centres were also being set up to impart technical and vocational training to our youth to enable them to be gainfully employed.

Aware that irrigation systems were the lifeline of any agrarian economy, Sukhbir Singh Badal considered it important to mention that Punjab's Irrigation and Drainage Department has launched a massive programme at a cost of a whopping Rs.3300 crore to de-silt and re-line the canals and water courses, thus enhancing intake capacity at the tail ends in southern Malwa region. He urged the Centre to grant Rs.10000 crore for the entire scheme for the remodeling and revamping of the canal system in the state.

As the SAD-BJP's Insaaf Rally witnessed the top brass fighting for the state's cause and challenging the might of Delhi to yield to its just demands, one thing was clear as daylight that Congress will continue to be an extinct entity in Punjab for perhaps a couple of more decades, especially with Sukhbir Singh Badal spearheading the battle for Punjab and blending youthful exuberance with mature vision, cold facts and a farmer's logic.

The SAD Secretary General Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa called for industrial concessions for Punjab along the same lines as given to its neighbouring states. He said that it was tragic that while the whole of Punjab had poured into Delhi to get the Union government to lend an attentive ear to the misery of Punjab, the Prime Minister had deemed it below his dignity even to personally meet the representatives of the visiting millions.

The Punjab Finance Minister Mr. Manpreet Singh Badal placed the state's case before an unparalleled gathering with unmatched vehemence. Describing the Punjab CM as "the true messiah of not just the peasantry but the entire spectrum of state's spectrum, the FM said that a devastated farming community could lead to conditions of total instability and social chaos, posing a serious threat to peace.

The president of the Punjab unit of the BJP, Rajinder Bhandari said that the center's step- motherly treatment of Punjab had brought trade and industry in the state to the brink of disaster. He demanded parity in industrial package for all the border states. Mr. Bhandari also described as "shockingly insensitive" the center's decision to leave Punjab out of the agricultural package given to some other states like Kerala.

Senior BJP leader and Minister for Local Bodies Mr. Manoranjan Kalia bemoaned the total neglect of the state, especially of trade and industry. He said that while the present Congress leadership in the state was indulging in political gimmickry and had been forced to copy the SAD-BJP agenda, the sad fact was that the party had never mustered courage even to place the case of the state before the Union Government led by a Punjabi Prime Minister. In contrast, he said, the former Prime Minister Mr. I.K. Gujral had virtually thrown the doors of the central coffers open to help Punjab regain its health and its position as the leading state in the country.

Cooperation Minister Captain Kanwaljit Singh spoke about the rural-urban divide in the country and asked the Congress president Sonia Gandhi to "either wake up to the shocking reality of the economic disparities among people from various shades or face total political extinction."

Ex-cricket star and Member of Parliament Navjot Singh Sidhu demanded the immediate implementation of the Act introduced by Sir Chhottu Ram under which no farmer can be forced to pay more than twice the principal amount of the loan. The Ram Leela grounds reverberated with slogans when Mr. Sidhu likened Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh to an infertile cow that yielded neither calf nor milk.

Later, Mr.Sukhbir Singh Badal along with State President BJP, Punjab Prof. Rajinder Bhandari went to the Parliament House and submitted a memorandum seeking justice for the people of Punjab to the Home Minister Mr.Shiv Raj Patil on behalf of the Prime Minister Dr.Manmohan Singh.

Prominent amongst others who spoke on the occasion included Senior Vice President SAD Gurdev Singh Badal, General Secretary SAD Balwinder Singh Bhunder. The rally was also attended by Mr.Balbir Punj (Incharge Punjab Affairs) and Mrs.Kiran Ghai (both BJP National Secretaries) and Deputy Speaker Lok Sabha Charanjit Singh Attwal, Mr.Sharanjit Singh Dhillon, Mr.Zora Singh Mann, Mr.Varinder Singh Bajwa, Bibi Parmajit Kaur Gulshan, Mr.Sukhdev Singh Libra, Mr.Rattan Singh Ajnala, Mr.Naresh Gujral, Mr.Avinash Rai Khanna, Mr.Raj Mohinder Singh Majithia (all MPs), Information & Public Relations & Sanitation and Water Supply Minister Mr.Bikram Singh Majithia, PWD B&R Minister Parminder Singh Dhindsa, Advisor to Chief Minster Dr.Daljit Singh Cheema and Media Advisor to Chief Minister Harcharan Bains besides the MLAs, and party leaders, workers of SAD-BJP and Members of SGPC.



The Punjab Education Development Board under the chairmanship of Punjab Chief Minster Mr.Parkash Singh Badal decided in principle to provide quality education to the economically poor and intelligent students free of cost in the 'Adarsh Schools' to be affiliated to the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) in the state.

Presiding over the first meeting of the Board held late last evening at Kapurthala House, New Delhi after the amendment of the Punjab Education Development Act, 1998, Mr. Badal said that now the decks have finally cleared for the major expansion of modernized school education infrastructure in the state. He directed the school education department to immediately invite expression of interest in this regard. It was also decided in the meeting that initially these schools would be set up in the rural areas in the close proximity of the block headquarters to attract highly qualified and talented teachers. Mr. Badal also said that the teaching of Punjabi subject would be made compulsory up to class-X for the students.

It was also informed in the meeting that the Government of India had already sanctioned a sum of Rs.75 crore as Additional Central Assistance for the setting up the Adarsh schools. Mr.Badal directed the state Finance department to immediately release this amount to the Board for speedy implementation of this prestigious project. The Chief Minister also conceded to the demand of the members of the Board for the direct transfer of the cess of Rs.37 crore levied and collected by the state Excise & Taxation Department in a separate head of Education Development Fund.

The members from the corporate sector and companies impressed upon Mr.Badal to allow them to run short term vocational courses in the premises of Adarsh schools in the evening to impart skilled training to the students and other interested unemployed youth to improve their chances of gainful employment. The Board also decided to allow the group/company/individual having a net worth of Rs.50 crore instead of Rs.100 crore to be eligible for opening of Adarsh school. This condition would also be applicable to worth of charitable funds and trusts being run by the business groups. Likewise, the board also allowed the education groups having 5 years of experience/involvement in the educational institutions. These groups should have been running at least 10 educational institutions (colleges & schools) with proper affiliation with not less that 1000 students for the last two years.

The Chief Minister mentioned in the meeting that the concept of Adarsh schools had been widely appreciated by the Planning Commission of India and GoI had also replicated the same by establishing Adarsh school in each block of the country. He said that the novel scheme had evoked encouraging response from the top captains of business and industry in the country to set up 100 Adarsh Schools in various parts of the state.

Mr.Badal appealed the renowned industrialists as responsible corporate citizen and sought their enormous contribution towards this noble venture because they also owe something to the community with which they had age old cultural and emotional ties. The Chief Minister also assured the industrialists of fulsome support and cooperation with a congenial atmosphere to work with utmost dedication and commitment to make this dream project a grand success.

The Board also decided to constitute an executive committee under the chairmanship of Chief Secretary to take decision from time to time with the approval of the Chief Minister. The other members of the board would be Secretary School Education, VC Punjabi University Patiala, Special Secretary School Education and a member from the corporate/business group.

Prominent amongst others who were present on the occasion included Education Minister & Vice Chairman of the Board Dr.Upinderjit Kaur, Member Rajya Sabha Naresh Gujral (special invitee) Chief Secretary RI Singh, Financial Commissioner Excise & Taxation SS Brar, Secretary School Education KBS Sidhu, Special Secretary School Education Ashok Gupta, Vice Chancellor Punjabi University Patiala Dr.Jaspal Singh, Director Vasant Valley School, New Delhi Arun Kapur and Madan Mohan Vyas (both educationists), besides Chairman-cum-Managing Director Hero Group Sunil Munjhal, Vice President Bharti Enterprises Rakesh Mittal, Chairman Ranbaxy Laboratories Ltd. Harpal Singh as the private partners.



Right on the eve of the Punjab Chief Minister Mr.Parkash Singh Badal impressed upon Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh for one time waiver of agriculture debt to save the beleaguered peasantry of the state from the back breaking burden of debt.

This was disclosed by Mr. Harcharan Bains, Media Advisor to Chief Minister, Punjab. Mr. Bains said that Dr. Manmohan Singh's response was positive and constructive.

Elaborating what transpired during the meeting between the two leaders in New Delhi this evening, Mr. Bains said that the Prime Minister agreed that the farmers had contributed immensely to odds making India as self-reliant in the food production.

Appreciating the concern of Mr.Badal for fixing the Minimum Support Price of wheat to at least Rs.1400 per quintal for the ensuing Rabi Season, the Prime Minister assured him that he would soon involve the Ministry of Agriculture and the Commission for Agricultural Costs & Prices for an upward revision in this regard, according to the Media Advisor.

Earlier, Mr. Badal also had a longish meeting with the Union Agriculture Minister, Mr. Sharad Pawar to discuss the farmers' issues.

In another significant development, the Prime Minister also assured the Chief Minister's to take up the matter of relining for the Rajasthan Feeder and Sirhind Feeder Canals at the cost of Rs.650 crore with the Ministry of Water Resources at the priority. Dr. Singh also assured the Chief Minister that he would soon the direct the Ministry of Railway for the construction of 37 KMs new railway link from Mallan Wala on Jalandhar-Ferozepur line to Ratoke on Amritsar-Khemkaran line for which the Ministry of Railways had already conducted the survey.

The Prime Minister also assured Mr. Badal that he would ask the Ministry of Human Resources to clear the pending project of the setting up of Central University in Punjab without any further delay.

Raising various issues relating to the overall development and progress of the state, Mr.Badal urged the Prime Minister to extend the Mumbai-Delhi Rail Freight Corridor to Ludhiana – an industrial hub to boost the economic development in the state. Besides, the Chief Minister also impressed upon Dr. Singh to extend the Rail Freight Corridor from Sonnagar (West Bengal to Ludhiana upto Amritsar and Attari on Indo Pak Border to usher in an era of economic prosperity especially in the border area.

Expressing gratitude to the Prime Minister for the clearance of Mohali International Airport, Mr.Badal requested him to name it as 'Shaheed-e- Bhagat Singh International Airport' to pay a befitting tribute to the great martyr during his year long birth centenary celebrations. .

Mr. Bains said that the Chief Minister sought personal intervention of Dr.Singh for an expeditious Cabinet approval for the prestigious 1715 KM Guru Gobind Singh Marg from Takhat Sri Keshgarh Sahib, Sri Anandpur Sahib to Takhat Sri Sachkhand Hazoor Sahib Nanded in Maharashtra and the release of funds to the tune of Rs.186.33 crore for the infrastructure development of the holy towns of Sri Anadpur Sahib and Talwandi Sabo keeping in view the historical importance of the mega event of 'Guruta Gaddi Diwas' tercentenary celebrations.

Dr. Singh also conceded the state government's proposal to upgrade the Amritsar Medical College to provide best health care facilities to the people of Punjab and adjoining states of Himachal Pradesh and J&K. It may be recalled that out of the total cost of the project of Rs.141 crore, GoI's share would be Rs.100 crore.

In a significant development, the Prime Minister also assured the Chief Minister's to take up the matter of relining for the Rajasthan Feeder and Sirhind Feeder Canals at the cost of Rs.650 crore with the Ministry of Water Resources at the priority. Dr. Singh also assured the Chief Minister that he would soon the direct the Ministry of Railway for the construction of 37 KMs new railway link from Mallan Wala on Jalandhar-Ferozepur line to Ratoke on Amritsar-Khemkaran line for which the Ministry of Railways had already conducted the survey.

The Prime Minister also assured Mr. Badal that he would asked the Ministry of Human Resources to clear the pending project of the setting up of Central University in Punjab without any further delay.

Responding to the demands put forth by Mr.Badal, the Prime Minister assured the Chief Minister that he would personally review the position of the different projects and proposals sent by the State Government to the Centre for approval with the concerned Ministries. He assured Dr.Manmohan Singh that the funds provided by the Centre for the schemes and projects aimed at the overall development of the state and welfare of its people would be spent in the right earnest and the progress of these schemes would be regularly monitored at his own level to ensure their timely implementations.

The Chief Minister was accompanied by Chief Secretary Mr.Ramesh Inder Singh.

Name Nanded Sahib Airport as Guru Gobind Singh Airport: Badal to PM

Chandigarh February 25: The Punjab Chief Minister Mr. Parkash Singh Badal today called on Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh in New Delhi and urged him to name the proposed Airport at Sri Nanded Sahib as Sri Guru Gobind Singh Airport.

According to Media Advisor to Chief Minister Mr. Harcharan Bains, Mr. Badal handed over a written request on behalf of "the people of Sri Nanded Sahib, all Punjabis, the entire Sikh Community and, in fact, the whole mankind" requesting the Prime Ministerial intervention in the matter "purely as a token of respect and reverence to the incomparable sacrifices made by the Tenth Master Sri Guru Gobind Singhji."

Mr. Badal thanked the Prime Minister for the Government of India's decision to set up an Airport at Sri Nanded Sahib.

Mr. Bains said that the Chief Minister remind it the Prime Minister that "this decision of the Government of India coincides with the historic occasion of the tercentenary celebrations of Gurta-Gaddi to be observed at Gurudwara Sachkhand Sahib at Sri Nanded Sahib in October, 2008. This involves the remembrance of the 300th year of the consecration of Guru Granth Sahib. Equally significantly this year happens to be tercentenary year of the Parlok Gaman of the Tenth Master, Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji."

Mr. Badal said that 'the whole nation is observing the anniversary as an event of national pride, patriotism and spiritual renaissance. The great Guru, he said, "is truly an icon of liberation and elevation of the human spirit to Godliness for the entire mankind. "No occasion can be more befitting than this to offer our tributes to the Great Guru. Purely as a token of respect and reverence to the incomparable sacrifices made by him, it would be appropriate to name Sri Nanded Sahib Airport as Sri Guru Gobind Singh Airport", said Mr. Badal.

The Chief Minister said that he had no doubt in his that mind that "not only the entire Sikh community but also the total mankind would salute the Government of India for paying this humble tribute to the Saint-Soldier unparalleled."

Mr. Badal requested the Prime Minister to issue necessary instructions to this effect, said Mr. Bains.



A 4-member high empowered team of Government of India (GoI) led by Dr. T. Ramasami, Secretary, Department of Science and Technology (GoI) today called on Punjab Chief Minister Mr. Parkash Singh Badal to apprise him with the latest developments regarding the setting up of Neno Technology Institute and Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER) at Mohali.

Mr. Ramasami informed Mr. Badal that the main purpose of their visit was to finalize the site and other formalities related to the infrastructure with the Punjab Government. He also informed that Government of India would made all necessary clearances in this regard shortly to initiate the construction work by the months of May-June this year and it would take 18 months to complete the entire project.

Interacting with the team Mr. Badal said that the Punjab Government was committed to impart high quality education in the state especially in the Science stream. He also evinced keen interest to work in tandem with Department of Science and Technology (GoI) in focus areas of education, higher education, technical education, and science & research education. Mr. Badal assured the visiting team that the state government would extend fulsome support and cooperation to them. He also directed Greater Mohali Area Development Authority (GMADA) to transfer the proposed land to the Institutions.

The other members of this high empowered team included Dr. A. Mukhopadhyay, Adviser; Mr. V. Rao Aiyagari , Adviser & Head (SERC) and Mr. Sanjiv Nair, Joint Secretary, Department of Science and Technology (GoI).

Prominent amongst others who were present on the occasion included Dr. J. S. Bajaj, Vice Chairman, Punjab State Planning Board; Mr. DS Guru, Principal Secretary to Chief Minister; Mr. A.S. Chhatwal, Secretary Science and Technology; Mrs. Anjali Bhawra, Secretary, Higher Education; Mr. Vivek Partap Singh, CA, GMADA; Special Principal Secretary to Chief Minister K.J.S. Cheema; Dr. N.S. Tiwana, Executive Director Science and Technology, Punjab and Dr. N. Sathyamurthy, Director Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER), Mohali.




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