M A I N   N E W S

Ramesh promises boost for border villages in Punjab
Announces special infra grant; Rs 800 cr for rural roads
SP Sharma/TNS

Mohar Jamsher (Fazilka), May 11
Union Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh today promised a special grant for development of infrastructure in the border villages of Punjab. He also announced that Rs 800 crore would be spent on improving rural road links in the border state.

After visiting six border districts, Ramesh said he had first-hand assessed the peculiar problems being faced by residents of these remote areas. He was particularly moved by the deplorable condition of residents of two hamlets — Mauzam and Mohar Jamsher — that are surrounded on three sides by Pakistan and on the fourth side by the Sutlej, isolating the area from the mainland.

Ramesh said steps would be taken to supply potable water in the area, which is currently fed by the highly-contaminated Sutlej.

He also visited villages in the Muktsar district where Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and MP Harsimrat Kaur Badal urged him to take steps to rid nearly 14,000 acres of otherwise fertile area from the chronic problem of waterlogging.

Ramesh said he would work out a separate budgetary provision for development of the road network in the border villages and also relax the norms for various centrally sponsored schemes.

The Union Minister was accompanied by Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal, Punjab Cabinet ministers Sharanjit Singh Dhillon, Surjit Singh Rakhra and Surjit Kumar Jyani, Ferozepur MP Sher Singh Ghubaya and Congress Guruharsahai MLA Rana Gurmeet Singh Sodhi.

Sanctioning Rs 800 crore for upgrading road connectivity in rural areas, Ramesh said he would ensure that the money was equitably spent in all districts of Punjab.

Replying to a query, he said there was no specific report of misuse of funds meant for the MNREGA in Punjab.

Ramesh also visited Channu village in Lambi, the CM’s constituency. Ramesh termed waterlogging as a serious problem and said he would discuss the issue in detail with technical experts and formulate measures to solve the problem.

Sukhbir sought a special package for development of the border areas of Punjab.

Guruharsahai Congress MLA Rana Gurmeet Singh Sodhi apprised the minister of problems of people in border areas falling in his constituency and sought special development package. He also urged the minister to introduce a system to monitor proper use of Central grants.

Ramesh said all gram panchayats would be made accountable. We will conduct regular audits to ensure proper utilisation of grants. The matter has been taken up by the CAG and necessary guidelines in this regard would be issued soon,” he said. The minister was driven around the villages by Sodhi.

All gram panchayats in the state would be brought under the Nirmal Gram Yojna in the next three years, he said. Special projects will be planned to improve the quality of drinking water in those pockets where arsenic and uranium contents were high.

The minister said he was hopeful that the new BPL survey, which was being done in the state, will be more realistic this time. Ramesh said all those villages where the SC population was more than 50 per cent will be brought under Pradhan Mantri Adarsh Gram Yogna (PMAGY) which will spearhead overall development of these villages.

(With inputs from Archit Watts, Anirudh Gupta and Praful Nagpal)





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