Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Tuesday said that the Punjabi spirit of ‘koyi gal nai’ (no worries) was causing people to delay going for testing and treatment during the pandemic. He blamed this attitude for Punjab having a Covid mortality rate higher than Haryana as patients were delaying going to the hospital till it was too late.
The CM was speaking during a virtual meeting with top industry leaders from across the country as part of a day-long brainstorming conference steered by Chandigarh University Chancellor Satnam Singh Sandhu.
During his address, he asserted his commitment to making Punjab an industrial powerhouse. Amarinder said he wanted the state to lead in both industry and agriculture, and he desires to kickstart the process of transformation within his lifetime.
Inviting the industry stalwarts to visit Punjab and gauge for themselves the conducive industrial climate created by his government, CM cited the state’s business friendly policies, seamless connectivity, high-end infrastructure, skilled labour, along with reputed educational institutions.
Amarinder lamented that the Akali politics had cost Punjab its industrial belt by pushing for state’s reorganisation in their bid to create a Sikh dominated state through the Punjab Suba movement.
Further, he said that water crisis had impacted agriculture too, putting the state in a difficult situation. With agriculture not sustainable any longer due to the depleting ground water table, his government had gone into an over-drive to boost industrial development, he said, adding that the new rules allowing deferred clearance for industry would facilitate growth in this area.
The CM said that even during Covid crisis, the state has received investment of about Rs 2500 crore, adding that migrants were returning in large numbers since the lifting of the lockdown and 2.34 lakh units in Ludhiana were already operational.
Amarinder told the meeting that to revive industrial growth and economy in the post-Covid era, the state government had appointed a high-level expert committee headed by leading economist Montek Singh Ahluwalia to formulate short and medium term action plan.
Various leading industry leaders gave suggestions and raised concerns on the way forward. Sanjeev Mehta of Hindustan Unilever requested for 12-hour shifts to be allowed for workers and one designated person in the district administration to coordinate with the industry in the eventuality of spike in Covid-19 cases among the employees.
He also sought a nodal officer in the government to coordinate for the company’s proposed Rs 500 crore investment in the state. He offered partnership with the Punjab government for a women empowerment (Shakti) programme.
Biocon’s Kiran Mazumdar Shah said Punjab had immense opportunity for investing in digital healthcare and systems to create jobs. She added that Punjab has the ecosystem available that her company could leverage to create jobs for youth in the state.
The Chief Minister said healthcare infrastructure development was a key priority area for his government too and he had sought central government’s support for the same.
Tech Mahindra’s C P Gurnani, whose company is set to start the Plaksha University in the state next year, requested for innovation hubs in Patiala, Ludhiana and Mohali, for development and collaboration with the state government. Captain Amarinder pointed out that Mohali had been developed as an IT hub and the potential for industrial expansion and growth in the state was huge.
Volvo’s Vinod Aggarwal sought a clear state policy for the automotive industry. His company was certainly looking at Punjab as its next investment destination, he said, adding that auto labs could be set up for training the youth and giving them employment.
Uber’s Pawan Vaish called for early adoption of electric three-wheelers, and said his company offered great opportunity for transformation of informal to formal economy.
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