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Amarinder ends Vikas Yatra
Area seeping in poverty, underdevelopment
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Pucca Kalan/Talwandi Sabo, November 12
It was literally a paradox. On the one hand was Punjab Chief Minister’s enormous fleet of vehicles and men symbolising the Vikas Yatra. On the other were clusters of dilapidated houses and lives symbolising underdevelopment.

On the last day of its first phase which ended successfully today, Capt Amarinder Singh’s convoy passed through an area so severely neglected, it seemed odd in the schedule of the Vikas Yatra. Even the historically-significant Talwandi Sabo (also called Guru ki Kashi), where the Chief Minister wrapped up what he described as his “election campaign”, is not spared its share in the package of underdevelopment. Jajjal, the very first village of the area, which the Chief Minister’s cavalcade entered on its way to Takth Shri Dam Dama Sahib today, is notorious for poor health indicators.

Along with Giana (also in Talwandi Sabo), Jajjal has a high incidence of cancer. In fact, many villages of Pucca Kalan and Talwandi Sabo constituencies, which the Chief Minister covered before offering prayers at Takth Dam Dama Sahib today, are seeped in poverty and disease. Being tailend, they have negligible water supply for irrigation; they have no source of drinking water where women sometimes travel 10 km to fetch; their debts run into lakhs and their health is in total mess.

Makhan Singh, a marginal farmer who spent this morning preparing langar for the Chief Minister, said, “Had the cotton crop failed this year, I would not have been alive. Some of our farmers committed suicide. I am also under heavy debts to commission agents and banks. We wish the Chief Minister waived off our loans.”

The Chief Minister, who received a massive reception throughout the route today, maintained his people-friendly strategy and heard out the grieving. About drinking water, he said water treatment plants were being planned. About cancer deaths, he said medical surveys had been ordered. What is of immediate concern to people here, however, is the absence of healthcare facilities. Patients of chronic diseases go to Bikaner to seek treatment. For the diseased in Pucca Kalan, the nearest civil hospital is at Talwandi Sabo, which is far off.

The Chief Minister, perhaps, had little idea of the underdevelopment in this belt until he entered it today. Although upon arrival, he soothed the wounds of few, the question some villagers were asking was: “Where was he for five years?” Pritpal Singh, whose outstanding debt is Rs 3 lakh, said: “I am happy to see the CM. I will request him for a waiver.”

Like Pritpal Singh of Sekhon, where the Chief Minister had langar, several poor farmers had come from far off in the hope of redemption from poverty. The resounding success which Vikas Yatra got in the Malwa belt could thus well be an indication of people’s helplessness, an extension of their hopes against hope.

And the Chief Minister seemed to understand that. Repeating his yesterday’s style, he went over to the fields to have lunch. Over lunch he spoke to farmers and promised them help. In the morning, however, he played a politician, blaming the Akalis for impeding development work in the state. He challenged Parkash Singh Badal saying: “Let him hold a rally at Moga. I will hold a rally at Badal. Also, we will plan our manifesto in a way that we launch Punjab into the 21st century.”

Later at Takth Shri Dam Dama Sahib, the Chief Minister thanked the people of 21 constituencies he covered during the first phase of his Yatra. Holding the siropa presented to him by Sant Midha Singh, a nominated member of the Shiromani committee, he looked happy. He knew he had shaken the Akali-held Malwa to the Congress’ advantage.




Pathankot airport to open for domestic traffic

During his Vikas Yatra today, the Punjab Chief Minister announced that the Pathankot airport would be opened to civilian traffic on November 15. Union Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel will formally inaugurate the opening of terminal building for domestic traffic.

CM starts yatra in Badal’s backyard

Located 6 km from Parkash Singh Badal’s village Badal, Nandgarh in Pucca Kalan segment was chosen as the starting point of the Vikas Yatra today. Interestingly, the village is home to the Jathedar of Takth Shri Dam Dama Sahib, Balwant Singh Nandgarh. Also, it is the SAD President’s backyard.

Disabled want marriage bureau

Gulzari Lal Sharma and Major Singh, who represent the 12,000 disabled persons of Bathinda, requested the Chief Minister to help them establish a disabled marriage bureau. They said 60 per cent disabled were youth, of which the majority was unmarried as they had no platform to find out where prospective partners resided.

CM administers polio drops

Halting his yatra midway in Pucca Kalan segment, the Chief Minister administered polio drops to a child who had come at attend the pulse polio camp held in the village.



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