Union Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh on Friday promised a special border area package for Punjab and announced that Rs 800 crore will be spent on rural link roads in the state.
I have sanctioned Rs 800 crore for the 1600-km length of link roads for Punjab villages. However after looking at the condition of the border area,I announce to sanction a special package for the six border districts of Punjab, Ramesh said.
The minister who undertook an extensive tour of the border villages,said that central government is strengthening the infrastructure in border areas in the country and six Punjab border districts Gurdaspur,Pathankot,Amritsar,Tarn Taran,Ferozepur and Fazilka have been selected under the Prime Minister Village Road scheme and the Centre would provide more funds to provide drinking water and toilets here.
The Union Minister,who is on two-day visit to Punjab,said that he had visited these villages on the direction of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh,who was worried about the lack of development in border area.
Ramesh said that people of this area have suffered the most as they have been uprooted every time there was a war with the neighbouring country and development in these villages could not get the required focus due to their inaccessibility. I salute the villagers living in these parts of the state, he added.
Earlier,Punjab Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal sought a special development package from Union minister Jairam Ramesh to cover areas of rural roads,village sanitation,ponds desiltation,rural water supply,economically weaker sections (EWS) housing and disposal of sullage in villages that was imperative to bring them on par with others.
Badal said that besides the rural development package,the Union Government must sanction industrial incentive package especially for border districts,so that industrial house could be wooed to set up units in this area.
To this,Jairam Ramesh said: I will not be partial in granting funds to Punjab,but the state really needs to be swift in sending the project reports for which they need funds. I also need proper utilisation certificates as well.
Promising to cover every village of Punjab under Nirmal Gram Yojana,Ramesh said that performance of the state under rural sanitation and drinking water schemes had been exceptional.
The minster said that there are a total of 12,500 gram panchayats in the state and I want Punjab to be 100 per cent covered under Nirmal Gram Yojana as has been done in Maharastra,Kerala and Himachal Pradesh. The Centre will provide funds to construct toilets in the villages.
Before reaching Mohar Jamsher,the Ramesh went to Maujam village where locals had been kept waiting for three hours. However,he stayed there for less than two minutes and moved ahead after after accepting a memorandum of demands from the villagers. He,along with Congress MLA Rana Sodhi,also visited the border villages in Guru-har-Sahai.