Friday, July 26, 2002, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Special package for Punjab border districts sought
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 25
Mr Ashwani Kumar, Rajya Sabha MP from Punjab, today raised the issue of the four-laning of the national highway between Jalandhar and Amritsar as per the announcement made by Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee in November last year.

Raising the question during question hour, he asked the government if any instructions had been issued to expedite the project.

Replying to the question, Minister for Surface Transport B.C. Khanduri said the detailed project preparation for the four-laning of the Jalandhar-Amritsar section had been completed. He said preparation of estimates was in progress and various options for financing were also being explored.

In his supplementary, Mr Kumar said he was pleading for the four-laning of the highway to connect the borders. The NH-1 was crucial to economic development, besides strategic importance, he said.

Mr Kumar also asked if the government was contemplating a special economic assistance package for the border districts of Amritsar, Gurdaspur and Ferozepore in Punjab as in the case of Jammu and Kashmir and the North-East.

Dissatisfied with the ministerís reply who said the ministry was responsible for only development and maintenance of national highways and there was no special economic assistance package for the border districts in Punjab in respect of national highways, Mr Kumar said his question was not pertaining to roads. He said the special economic assistance was being sought for border districts due to Punjabís special role in fighting the nationís war.

Mr Kumar said Punjab had lost 40 per cent of its hydel power due to the partial failure of monsoon, forcing the PSEB to spend Rs 470 crore for buying extra power from central utilities. In addition, he said the state had lost Rs 350 crore for diverting commercial power to the agriculture sector to enable the sowing of paddy.

Dr Manmohan Singh also supported him.

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