M A I N   N E W S

PM’s package for Amritsar
Announces 70-cr grant for Galiara project
Ashwini Bhatnagar and Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, September 1
The Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, today repaid his debt to his city by announcing a large package for its growth and development. The package includes the release of Rs 70-crore grant to beautify the surroundings of the Golden Temple under the two-decade-old Galiara project.

In fact, the vision that the Prime Minister presented before a select gathering at a function in New Amritsar was one of converting the Holy City into not only a heritage site but also a modern and vibrant business entity.

For the rest of Punjab, he promised to take up the issue of recruitment into the armed forces on the basis of merit and not in ratio of population of the state. The issue has been hanging fire for decades and it was also raised in the controversial Anandpur Sahib resolution passed in 1973 by the Akali Dal.

Dr Singh, during his day-long visit to his hometown, won hearts by his humility and sincerity of purpose. He insisted that a memorandum presented to him for the benefit of the city should not be handed over to his staff. “Give it to me,” he said, “I will read it on my flight back to Delhi.”

Dr Singh began his address by invoking the name of the Gurus—Wahe guru ka Khalsa, wahe guru ji ki fateh. “Mein ek adna Sikh hone de nate Guru Granth Sahib nun namaskar karda han. Mainu 1947 de din yaad aa rahe han jadon main is shahr vich sharnarthi ban ke aya si. Mein Amritsariyo nun namaskar karda han. Mein bharatiye gantantra nun vi namaskar karda han jinne mainu pradhan mantri da ahuda bakshiya.” He added that he has also come to seek the blessings of the Sangat.

In his 20-minute-long speech, Dr Singh said the Government of India would ensure UNESCO heritage status for the Golden Temple by next year. The Prime Minister promised to clear the proposal for creating a Rs 1,100-crore Special Economic Zone for Amritsar. It will generate employment for 5,500 persons. Though investment in it will be made by the private investors, the infrastructure will be created by the Central Government.

In yet another significant announcement, Dr Singh promised to convert the local historic Gobindgarh Fort into a national museum. The Fort is under Army control and is in bad shape. Dr Manmohan Singh said the National Committee on celebrations of 400th anniversary of Guru Granth Sahib would extend full support and cooperation for setting up the National Centre for Guru Granth Sahib and Research at Guru Nanak Dev University. The foundation stone of this centre was laid by the President, Dr A.P.J Abdul Kalam, yesterday.

On the request of the Chief Minister, Dr Singh assured that the prestigious Khalsa heritage project at Anandpur Sahib would be completed with financial assistance from the Centre. Referring to the turban issue, he said he had deputed Mr J.N. Dixit as a special envoy to take up the matter with the French President. He claimed that the dialogue with the French had evoked a positive response and hoped that emotive issue would be resolved shortly.

Speaking on the occasion, the former Prime Minister, Mr Atal Bihari Vajpayee, said “Guru Granth Sahib is the fountainhead of the message of love, ethical living, universal brotherhood and peaceful co-existence for the entire humanity”. The most appropriate and befitting homage to Guru Granth Sahib, he said, would be to dedicate the occasion for promoting inter faith understanding and international peace.

The SAD president, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, felicitated the people on the auspicious occasion. He urged the Prime Minister to announce September 1 as a national holiday.

Though Mr V.P. Singh and Mr Chandra Shekhar, both former Prime Ministers, had been invited they were conspicuous by their absence. Among those who spoke on the occasion were Mr Om Prakash Chautala, Chief Minister, Haryana, and Mr Madan Lal Khurana, Governor, Rajasthan.


Siropa for Capt

Amritsar, September 1
Finally, Capt Amarinder Singh managed to throw a surprise at the SGPC and the Akalis and upstage them at their own game today.

Perhaps making amends for yesterday’s neglect of the Chief Minister at the Golden Temple, a ‘sipora’ was presented to him and his wife at the sanctum santorum of Harmandar Sahib. He was honoured along with the Prime Minister by Giani Puran Singh, Head Granthi, Golden Temple.

Later, at a function in New Amritsar, the stage secretary and former SGPC chief, Bibi Jagir Kaur, politely called out his name to address the gathering, which was being presided over by the PM.

Capt Singh went to the podium and announced that before he spoke, the PCC President, Mr H.S. Hanspal, would read out a message from Mrs Sonia Gandhi. The SGPC had pointedly not invited her to the celebrations though it had issued invites to all major political leaders.

The move left the organisers stumped and they had no choice but to hear out the message from the Congress President. Mrs Gandhi eulogized the Guru Granth Sahib in her message.

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