BADAL LAUDS RAMESH FOR ALL SUPPORT AND COOPERATION IN ALL ROUND DEVELOPMENT OF THE STATE
DEMANDS SPECIAL PACKAGE FOR BORDER, KANDI, WATERLOGGED AND BET AREAS
CHANDIGARH MAY 12(Bharatsandesh news): The Union Rural Development, Sanitation and Drinking Water Minister Mr. Jairam Ramesh today announced that Punjab deserves liberal allocation of funds in the centrally sponsored schemes and programs not as a special category state but due to its unique status for having rendered significant contribution in making India self-reliant in food production.
Addressing the MLAs of ruling SAD-BJP alliance and the Congress – the principal party in opposition during a seminar on Rural Development Policies and Programs, Mr. Ramesh reiterated that none could deny the vanguard role played by the valiant Punjabis in the national freedom struggle besides ensuring food security for which it was aptly described as the ‘sword arm’ and ‘food bowl’ of the country.
Expressing gratitude to the Punjab Chief Minister Mr. Parkash Singh Badal for having invited him to visit Punjab especially the border areas to get first hand information about the problems being faced by the residents, Mr. Ramesh revealed that it was a fruitful journey as he would now be able to address the issues far more efficaciously. Mr. Ramesh said probably it was the first time that he was addressing a joint session of MLAs of the ruling and opposition during this seminar, as conventionally he had been meeting them separately earlier. He announced to delink the earlier scheme for upgradation of 1950 KMs of rural roads under Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) in all the 22 districts of the state and promised to treat six border districts viz. Ferozepur, Fazilka, Amritsar, Tarn Taran, Gurdaspur and Pathankot exclusively in view of the pathetic conditions of the people living there. He asked the Punjab government to send a comprehensive proposal for the overall development of these border districts in general and for upgradation of rural roads in particular to the ministry of rural development at the earliest. Mr. Ramesh also mentioned that the Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh have also asked him recently to work out a concrete scheme for the development and welfare of the inhabitants of border areas.
The Union Minister unequivocally stated that he was the true votary for strong federalism and in furtherance of this objective he had already mooted a proposal to place the funds for rural development at the disposal of states so that they could spend money on the schemes according to the felt needs of the people. He said this step would further bring in flexibility in the mechanism of rural development besides bestowing more powers on the gram panchayats to empower them by way of decentralization.
Responding to another issue raised by the Chief Minister, Mr. Ramesh also announced to do away with the condition of BPL/APL families for the scheme of low cost toilets under total sanitation scheme so that the scope of the scheme could be enlarged to benefit more beneficiaries. Likewise, he also pointed out that he would soon work out the modalities to remove the conditions of BPL/APL families under the Indira Gandhi Awas Yojana so that the majority of genuinely poor families could be accommodated. He also asked the state government to make concerted efforts to bring majority of its villages under Nirmal Gram Yojana in order to avail of the funds under the scheme. Admitting the defects in the parameters to ascertain the BPL families in the core network study in 2002, Mr. Ramesh said the present study was under way and the final list of BPL families would be out by September, 2012, which would be far more realistic than the previous one. Mr. Ramesh also agreed to the proposal of the Chief Minister to relax the norm of population from 500 to 250 to enable the small habitations (dhanis) to avail off financial grants for rural development under central schemes. He also conceded another demand of right to way by reducing the specified width of the rural roads from 10 meter to 8.38 meter for upgradation under Pradan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana on the pattern of Kerala.
Showing deep concern over the menace of water logging which had already affected nearly 4 lac acres in Muktsar and Fazilka districts, Mr. Ramesh announced that he would soon ask the Ministry of Rural Development to set up a technical expert committee for exploring ways and means to tackle this problem effectively on long as well as short term basis. Mr. Ramesh also pointed out that he had already spoken to Deputy Chairman Planning Commission of India Dr. Montek Singh Ahluwalia and the concerned member to allow special grant for this purpose in the state annual plan 2012-13 besides formulating a special scheme for allocation of funds to the states affected with this problem.
Emphasizing the need of audit of MGNREGA, Mr. Ramesh said in future the entire spending done by states on various schemes under it would be duly audited by the Comptroller Auditor General. The audit would comprise evaluation of the development works both financially as well as performance wise. All the gram panchayats would be required to submit their utilization certificates duly verified by the Chartered Accountant appointed by CAG. He said the final report was likely to be submitted by the CAG in October, 2012 after the audit of MGNREGA schemes for last six years.
In his address Punjab Chief Minister Mr. Parkash Singh Badal today called upon the opposition to play a constructive role in securing funds from the Centre. He appealed to all the MLAs to work sincerely for the overall development of the state, cutting across their political affiliations. Seeking their whole hearted cooperation from the members of both the ruling and opposition to emerge Punjab as a front runner state in the country, Mr. Badal said that the day was not very far off when Punjab would regain its lost glory over the passage of time.
The Chief Minister thanked Mr. Ramesh for showing benevolence for sanctioning adequate funds for the cleaning of the rivers in the state. He said the state legislative assembly had already passed a unanimous resolution to express gratitude to Mr. Ramesh for showing special concern for the state by generously approving development oriented schemes. Mr. Badal impressed upon the Union Minister to grant a special package of 2000 KMs under PMGSY for the upgradation of rural link road network in the state especially for border, bet, waterlogged and kandi areas. Apart from this he also demanded special funds to the tune Rs.750 crore for the cleaning and disposal of sullage water from about 10400 village ponds across the state. He also requested Mr. Ramesh to enhance the allocation Rs.150 crore per year against Rs.89 crore to cover the balance 3481 villages under potable water scheme. Likewise, he also urged Mr. Ramesh to enhance the limit from Rs.3500 to Rs.18500 for the construction of per unit low cost rural toilet.
Mr. Badal also urged the Union Minister to enhance the limit to atleast 1,80,000 for new construction of a two room dwelling unit and Rs.50,000 for upgradation as the financial assistance of Rs.45,000 per unit for new construction and Rs.15,000 for upgradation of an unserviceable katcha house provided by GoI was too inadequate under this scheme. He said that as many as 11000 families were houseless in the state besides 3.3 lac katcha houses. Mr. Badal also demanded that the condition of BPL must be done away with immediately for both the schemes of low cost rural toilets and houses for houseless.
Earlier, the Local Govt. Minister Bhagat Chunni Lal welcomed the Union Minister and said the seminar on the rural development policies and programs would go a long way to enlighten our MLAs to avail benefits under these schemes for the welfare of the people.
Speaking on the occasion, the leader of the opposition in Punjab Vidhan Sabha Mr. Sunil Jakhar complimented the Chief Minister for offering a joint platform to all the MLAs for apprising them with the various centrally sponsored schemes and programs under the Ministry of Rural Development. He assured Mr. Badal that his party was all for the state’s development and the welfare of all sections of the society.
The seminar was attended by the Speaker Punjab Vidhan Sabha Mr. Charanjit Singh Attwal, MLAs of SAD-BJP alliance, Congress besides the Cabinet Ministers, Chief Parliamentary Secretaries. Deputy commissioners, additional deputy commissioners (development) and the senior officers of the state government were also present on the occasion.