September 27, 2021 4:30:07 am
HOSHIARPUR HAS undergone a plethora of changes in the past four-and-half-years. From becoming the first district in the state where women e-rikshaw drivers can be seen plying on city roads, to the installation of 110 open-air gyms and providing dedicated tracks and smart bicycles to cycling lovers, a number of projects were successfully implemented in the district, under the watchful eyes of its MLA Sunder Sham Arora.
Arora has represented the Hoshiarpur Assembly segment since 2012 and became minister for the first time in 2017 when the Congress came to power. He held the Industries and Commerce portfolio in the state till last Saturday when the then Punjab CM, Captain Amarinder Singh, submitted his resignation and that of his council of ministers.
On Sunday, when a new Cabinet was sworn in under the leadership of the new Chief Minister, Charanjit Singh Channi, Arora’s name didn’t figure out on the list of new ministers. Sources said that Arora was not dropped from the Cabinet for being a Captain loyalist. He was rather left out as his name figured in an alleged multi-crore scandal in which a Rs 300 crore alleged loss was incurred to the exchequer during the auction of 31-acre prime land of JCT Electronics in Mohali. The Opposition cornered the government often demanding that Arora resign and the party had no choice but to drop him.
Talking about his achievements, regrets, and challenges, Arora said that in the past four-and-half years he has tried to make his constituency, which has a total of 1,88,041 registered voters, more developed than what it was under the tenure of the previous SAD-BJP regime. “I tried to bring some changes in the daily life of people of my constituency, and the Punjab Chief Minister was always very kind when it came to providing funds,” Arora said.
His five achievements as a minister
Under the ‘Ghar Ghar Rozgar’ mission and to make women self-dependent, Arora handed over free e-rickshaws, at a total cost of Rs 50 lakh, to 38 women after providing them free training. “The initiative was undertaken under the Coca Cola CSR fund to provide e-rickshaws to differently-abled, divorced, widows, and the other needy women. They are now self-dependent and earn their livelihood respectfully by plying these e-rickshaws,” said Arora.
With the help of school teachers, Hoshiarpur became a torchbearer in rainwater recharge projects, and 33 government schools installed rainwater harvesting systems on their premises. “We got smart classrooms made in 65 of the total 95 government schools of the constituency,” he said.
Under Tandrust Punjab Mission, Arora installed 110 open gyms in city parks and in other places. “Everyone in my constituency can now exercise free of cost at their own timings in these gyms. Also, a dedicated 8.25-km long bicycle track was made where bicycle lovers can go pedal without being bothered by the traffic. If they register through our App, then they can also be provided cycles and headgears at a very nominal rate by us. We spent Rs 50 lakh on this project so that people remain healthy,” he said.
An air-conditioned community hall was constructed in the city, at a cost of Rs 3 crore, where people can organise their social functions by paying very nominal charges — ranging from Rs 5,000 to Rs 25,000 only. And also in all 60 villages of Hoshiarpur, a water tanker was provided during marriages or other social gatherings.
The entire city was covered under CCTV cameras, which can be controlled at three main police stations, at a cost of Rs 98 lakh. “This has helped us to bring down the crime rate in the city. Also, after Mukatsar Sahib, Hoshiarpur is the only district that has been providing heavy vehicle driving licences. We spent Rs 2 crores on renovating our cremation ground. Vehicles, with a seating capacity of 23, are provided to family members travelling to the cremation ground and back home. Two plant saplings are provided to the families of every deceased with an aim to minimize the impact of deforestation. Besides, the entire city was provided 100% water supply and sewer system, and projects like a sports complex, an open-air theatre, food street, a mini sports hub for every five villages are under progress,” he said.
The major challenge was to provide jobs to the youths during Covid. We led the way and helped Punjab in the time of its distress with the help of district administration and local industries and various banks. We could provide jobs to hundreds of people right from the disabled to the poor. Setting up a Rs 325 crore medical college, which is already sanctioned for the district, is another major challenge that we will definitely achieve.
Regrets: There are no regrets as such. I have tried to do my best and the people of my constituency can vouch for it. A small and backward place like Hoshiarpur is now witnessing projects on the lines of any metro city, he claimed.
Voter’s views: “Apart from some small issues, overall there has been a great amount of change in our city. All the parks have been maintained properly and open gyms are installed. The bicycle project is very interesting and anybody can enjoy it, even without owning a bicycle,” said Baljit Singh, a city resident, adding that the new community hall was a big relief for the poor people who can now organise the marriages of their wards in fully AC hall at reasonable prices.
Some residents said that the menace of illegal colonies and illegal mining could not be stopped even under the Congress regime.
“Minister Arora may count the upcoming ‘Armed Forces Preparatory Institute (AFPI) for Male, as an achievement but it’s actually the other way round. A 130-year-old 19th-century‘ government-aided school, Sardar Bahadur Amin Chand (SBAC) Senior Secondary School Bajwara, had to be shut down to make way for this institute. The AFPI snatched away the right to education from many poor students,” said another resident Manish Kumar.
Former BJP minister Tikshan Sood, who contested against Arora in 2017, alleged that everyone knows that the minister has his share in various alleged unauthorised colonies at the periphery of the city. He claimed that under the Central government’s schemes, water supply and sewer lines are being laid at the peripheries for helping such colonies and Arora was just taking credit for the same.
“Apart from this, Arora’s name has appeared in an alleged multi-crore scandal in which there was a Rs 300 crore loss incurred to the exchequer during the auction of 31-acre prime land of JCT Electronics in Mohali. All the opposition parties had demanded a CBI probe in the case,” said Sood.
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