Punjab deserves liberal allocation of funds in central schemes as a special status state :Jai Ram

Chandigarh  May 12:

The Union Rural Development, Sanitation and Drinking Water Minister Mr. Jairam Ramesh today announced that Punjab deserves liberal allocation of funds in the centrally sponsored schemes and programs not as a special category state but due to its unique status for having rendered significant contribution in making India self-reliant in food production.

Addressing the MLAs of ruling SAD-BJP alliance and the Congress – the principal party in opposition during a seminar on Rural Development Policies and Programs, Mr. Ramesh reiterated that none could deny the vanguard role played by the valiant Punjabis in the national freedom struggle besides ensuring food security for which it was aptly described as the ‘sword arm’ and ‘food bowl’ of the country.

Mr. Ramesh said probably it was the first time that he was addressing a joint session of MLAs of the ruling and opposition during this seminar, as conventionally he had been meeting them separately earlier.

He announced to delink the earlier scheme for upgradation of 1950 KMs of rural roads under Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) in all the 22 districts of the state and promised to treat six border districts viz. Ferozepur, Fazilka, Amritsar, Tarn Taran, Gurdaspur and Pathankot exclusively in view of the pathetic conditions of the people living there.   He asked the Punjab government to send a comprehensive proposal for the overall development of these border districts in general and for upgradation of rural roads in particular to the ministry of rural development at the earliest.

Mr. Ramesh also mentioned that the Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh have also asked him recently to work out a concrete scheme for the development and welfare of the inhabitants of border areas.

Showing deep concern over the menace of water logging which had already affected nearly 4 lac acres in Muktsar and Fazilka districts, Mr. Ramesh announced that he would soon ask the Ministry of Rural Development to set up a technical expert committee for exploring ways and means to tackle this problem effectively on long as well as short term basis.

Emphasizing the need of audit of MGNREGA, Mr. Ramesh said in future the entire spending done by states on various schemes under it would be duly audited by the Comptroller Auditor General.  The audit would comprise evaluation of the development works both financially as well as performance wise.  All the gram panchayats would be required to submit their utilization certificates duly verified by the Chartered Accountant appointed by CAG.  He said the final report was likely to be submitted by the CAG in October, 2012 after the audit of MGNREGA schemes for last six years.

In his address Punjab Chief Minister Mr. Parkash Singh Badal today called upon the opposition to play a constructive role in securing funds from the Centre.  He appealed to all the MLAs to work sincerely for the overall development of the state, cutting across their political affiliations.  Seeking their whole hearted cooperation from the members of both the ruling and opposition to emerge Punjab as a front runner state in the country, Mr. Badal said that the day was not very far off when Punjab would regain its lost glory over the passage of time.

The Chief Minister thanked Mr. Ramesh for showing benevolence for sanctioning adequate funds for the cleaning of the rivers in the state.

Mr. Badal impressed upon the Union Minister to grant a special package of 2000 KMs under PMGSY for the upgradation of rural link road network in the state especially for border, bet, waterlogged and kandi areas.  Apart from this he also demanded special funds to the tune Rs.750 crore for the cleaning and disposal of sullage water from about 10400 village ponds across the state.