M A I N   N E W S

Target: NRIs
Punjab does some hardsell
1. Six dedicated police stations
2. Review of cases of 1,300 POs
3. Empowered panel on investment
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 5
Apart from setting up six police stations to exclusively deal with complaints of NRIs, Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal here today announced the constitution of a board of officers under the command of a DIG to gather information and examine cases of more than 1,300 NRI proclaimed offenders.

The board would submit the report to the Punjab police chief, said Badal at the concluding session of the first day of the NRI conference here today.

“We have learnt from the conference and the next time you will not face the problems encountered today,” said Badal, feeling sorry for the inadequate seating arrangement.

“The next time we should hold the conference under a banyan trees in a village where sarson da sag and makki di roti would be available in plenty,” he quipped.

NRIs have been complaining that false cases are registered against them and after some time they are declared proclaimed offenders by the police to stop them from entering India. They allege that mostly the objective is to grab their property in their absence. A proclaimed offender can be arrested at the airport at the time of his landing in the country.

Badal said cases registered against NRIs in which they had been declared POs would be reviewed.

NRI police stations would be set up at Jalandhar, Nawanshahr, Moga, Kapurthala and two other places. Complaints in such police stations can be lodged through e-mail and other modern means of communication. An empowered committee headed by chief secretary would be set up to deal with other issues related to NRIs. To ensure that no change is made in the revenue record of the land and properties held by NRIs in Punjab, records of their properties would be put on the official website of the government. In case they find any change made in the record without informing them, then they could approach the empowered committee.

Badal said certain amendments had already been made in the Land Tenancy Act and Rent Act to protect the property owned by NRIs in Punjab. The Punjab and Haryana High Court had been approached to set up fast track courts for the NRIs to dispose of their disputes in the shortest possible time. A senior officer has also been posted at Delhi to deal with NRI issues.

As far as visa-related problems are concerned, Badal said he would write to the Prime Minster in this regard. He said if any NRI wanted to invest money in setting up a school, hospital or other institution at his village, the state government would put 75 per cent share in it.




Sukhbir talks of big change
Naveen S. Garewal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 5
Virtually catapulting himself into the driver’s seat, Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) working president Sukhbir Singh Badal fumbled and exaggerated in a hard attempt to sell development opportunities in Punjab to hundreds of Non-Resident Indians (NRIs), who are here as part of the annual winter sojourn and to participate in the two-day Punjabi NRI Sammelan.

Sukhbir tried to sell Punjab as the moon to those very people who had left their homes here in search of greener pastures years ago.

“Our mission is to the bridge the gap between the Indian Punjab and the world Punjab. And today Punjab is the land of opportunities. Foreign countries do not need investment. It is Punjab that needs investment. If you invest now you will get the benefit,” he said.

In Sukhbir’s perception, the problems faced by NRIs includes lack of airport in Punjab, bad roads and power cuts. But he promised to change it all. “Work at most projects will start immediately and will be concluded within three years,” he assured them

The NRIs that included Lord Daljeet Rana, Baroness Usha Prashar, US hotel magnate Sant Singh Chatwal, Neena Gill from the European Parliament and former British Columbia premier Ujjal Dosanj.

Sukhbir told the gathering, “Since Punjab does not have a sea port, the Badal government is concentrating on the expansion of airports at Amritsar, Bathinda, Ludhiana and Pathankot”.

To his mind the setting up of an international airport at Amritsar was the biggest achievement of the SAD-BJP government during its last tenure.

As per Sukhbir’s vision expressways and freeways will reduce travelling time and distance. “NRIs will reach home in one or two hours after landing in Mohali or Amritsar. About 30 to 40 per cent buses on Punjab roads will be air-conditioned by the year-end and 70 to 70 per cent by next year”.

Similarly, travel for NRIs will become very comfortable as the government “proposes to introduce radio cabs in Jalandhar, Ludhiana, Amritsar and Mohali in three to four months,” said Sukhbir. He also had a solution for the badly planned towns of Punjab when he said, “in future no constriction will be allowed in any of the seven town planning authorities, unless it conforms to a master plan being prepared by a Singapore-based company called Jurong”.

But what took most people by surprise was his announcement that Punjab had decided to “go upwards owing to shortage of land. If Dubai can have a 100-storey building, why can’t Punjab replicate it? We have decided you can build as high as you want to, provided you have adequate parking in the basement”.

In his attempt to show concern about global warming, the SAD working president said “with global warming coming, we are very worried”.

But he left it at that adding that the SAD-BJP would take care of every problem, including the shortage of power for which the state would soon be producing 5000 MW. “We will become a power surplus state and sell power to other states like the Sheikhs sell oil”, leaving it at that for NRIs to ponder and invest in Punjab.



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