State’s Tourism Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu Thursday washed his hands of the adventure motor drive which is being organised by his department in the forest areas of Jayanti Majri, Siswan and Mirzapur areas, saying the directions for the same had come from Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh.
Asked about the event being held in the eco-sensitive zone and driving atop the no-entry zones of Jayanti Majri and Siswan dams, as reported by The Indian Express, Sidhu said, “Captain Amarinder Singh sent me the file and also asked me to attend the rally as he would be in New Delhi on that day. I do not know if this is a eco-sensitive zone or not. I am just following orders.”
Meanwhile, reacting to the report, Irrigation Minister Rana Gurjit Singh said he had directed the principal secretary of his department, VK Singh, to find out if the drive could take place on the roads atop the check dams.
When contacted, VK Singh said that since it was a government initiative, the drive would take place. When reminded that the decision to allow vehicles on dams was a violation of the government’s own orders, Singh said, “We will ensure a speed limit is adhered to when these vehicles are on the dam and that there are speed breakers installed. It will all be done under proper supervision.”
Meanwhile, the main Opposition AAP has condemned the Punjab government’s decision to organise the event in forest areas and that too near the Sukhbir Badal-owned Sukhvilas resort. “This is exactly what Sukhbir wanted and the Congress government is once again showing how it is hand in glove with the Badals,” said AAP MLA Sukhpal Khaira in a statement issue here today.
The forest and tourism departments of the state are the sponsors of the Shivalik Adventure Drive along with GMADA which will take place on July 8 and 9.
The rally will see off-roading vehicles participating in the drive and passing through the nature trails abutting the forest area. While the forest department has claimed that the drive will only take place in de-listed land and not on forest land or the dry seasonal rivulets in the area, this has been contradicted by the Director (Tourism) Shivdullar Singh Dhillon, who says the drive will taken place in seasonal rivulets (choe).