Congress MLAs in the House Wednesday raised the pressing issue of water paucity in their respective constituencies and succeeded in getting the Speaker to agree to their request to form a committee of MLAs, across party lines, to study the problem in depth and to recommend steps to construct a canal to supply water to their areas.
A joint question had been asked by Rajpura MLA Hardyal Singh Kamboj and Kapurthala MLA Rana Gurjit Singh to know the present status of Dashmesh Link Canal which was proposed to be built to provide water in the areas of Mohali, Zirakpur, Banur, Dera Bassi and Lalru.
Irrigation Minister Sukhbinder Singh Sarkaria conceded that there had been a proposal for the construction of the canal in 1998, but added that it had been shelved. “The offtake of Dashmesh Link Canal was from the SYL Canal. Due to abandoning of the SYL Canal project, the Dashmesh Link Canal project was also shelved,” he said.
Congress MLAs from Rajpura and Ghanaur were joined by SAD MLA from Dera Bassi, N K Sharma, in saying that their respective areas were in dire need to water supply. “This is a very important issue. In our area the water level has gone down to 300m and it is difficult for a farmer to even run a tubewell. Do not link the issue with SYL and find a solution,” Kamboj appealed to the Minister demanding the formation of a House committee.
Technical Education Minister Charanjit Singh Channi, who represents Chamkaur Sahib, also tried to speak on the issue but was disallowed by the Speaker who said that ministers could not ask questions in the house.
Sarkaria responded to the MLAs by saying that the problem with constructing the canal was that large tracts of land in Mohali have been given away to GMADA, Biotech department etc and that government will have to re-acquire it. “The issue will also go to the Central Water Commission and there Haryana will again link it to SYL Canal,” he said.
The Speaker interjected at this stage and said the House committee should be made to study the issue. “Our dispute is with Haryana and not these areas in Punjab,” he said.
7000 proclaimed offenders in state
Answering a question on behalf of the Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, who was not present in the House at the time, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Brham Mohindra said that there were 7357 Proclaimed Offenders (PO) in the state as on December 31, 2018. AAP MLA Nazar Singh Manshahia, who had sought details of the PO said that the high figure was shocking and no wonder there was so much crime taking place in the state.
He demanded that the photographs of the PO should be displayed at public places so that they could be easily identified. He also said that the PA of a Congress ‘halka in-charge’ (constituency in-charge) was also a PO, but no effort was being made to nab him. AAP MLAs walked out from the House when the other party MLAs were not allowed to raise the issue of POs by the Speaker.
Dhindsa-Mohindra spar over doctors
SAD MLA’s question on shortage of medical staff at health centres in Lehra and Moonak revealed that there were no specialist doctors in both places. The data given by Health Minister Brahm Mohindra revealed that out of five vacancies of specialists in Lehra none were filled while 11 vacancies of specialists in Moonak were also vacant.
While Dhindsa demanded to know when these vacancies will be filled, Mohindra retorted by saying that the SAD-BJP government had been unable to fill the vacancies because of the poor pay scale being offered. “We have revised the salary for medical officers and specialists and will soon fill posts all across the state,” he said.
Cong MLAs play truant
The question hour finished 15 minutes ahead of schedule as six Congress MLAs, who had questions listed were not present in the House at the time. These included Moga MLA Harjot Kamal Singh, Gidderbaha MLA Amrinder Singh Raja Warring, Zira MLA Kulbir Singh Zira, Pathankot MLA Amit Vij, Baba Bakala MLA Santokh Singh Bhalaipur and Urmar MLA Sangat Singh Gilzian.
Law to regularize contract employees
The Punjab government Wednesday announced to bring a special legislation for regularizing services of contractual employees, a move seen as a counter to the allegations of non-fulfilment of employees’ demands faced by the Amarinder Singh-led dispensation.
There are over 30,000 employees in various departments including education, irrigation, who have been working on contractual basis in the state. “We have decided to bring a resolution for regularization of the contractual employees,” Chief Minister Amarinder Singh said.