Chandigarh, Dec 20: Blaming the previous Akali Dal and Congress regimes for the poor fiscal health of Punjab, Finance Minister and senior AAP leader, Harpal Cheema, on Tuesday said that the Mann government was being forced to take loans to service the debts accumulated by the earlier governments. “These two parties have ruined Punjab. They made no efforts to increase revenues and kept taking loans for their wasteful expenditures, and Punjabis are paying for their misdeeds today and they will never forgive them”, said Cheema.
Speaking at News18 PH mega-event, Agenda Punjab 2023, Cheema and other senior AAP Ministers and leaders, lambasted the opposition parties for their false propaganda against AAP and said their government had fulfilled most of the guarantees that they promised to Punjabis during the poll campaign. “We have given jobs to 40,000 youth and increased salaries of teachers from a meagre Rs 6000 to Rs 25,000”, Cheema said.
Cheema also accused the Congress and the Akalis regimes of squandering the Rural Development Fund (RDF) for wasteful expenses during their tenures. “While Badal squandered the money on his Sangat Darshans, Congress used it to fund its debt waiver scheme”, said Cheema while accusing the Centre of deliberately stopping funds to AAP government.
Punjab Mining Minister, Chetan Singh Jauramajra, said that AAP has zero tolerance towards illegal mining. “Our efforts are to ensure that people get sand at reasonable rates while mining revenue for the state increases”, he said adding that 17 public sand mines opened by the Mann government were ensuring cheap sand to Punjabis. He also said that work for cleaning canals in the state was going on at full pace and within a year 13,671 closed water distributaries would be made functional.
Food Minister, Lal Chand Kataruchakk, said Punjab had procured an additional 185 lakh metric tons of paddy this season and farmers had been paid Rs. 40,726 crores. He said payments to farmers were made within 24 hours of procurement. He also said that the scheme for door-to-door delivery of wheat would commence soon.
In his interaction Punjab Power minister, Harbhajan Singh ETO said that there would be no change in the government’s policy of giving 600 units of free power. He said despite fulfilling its promise of free power, the electricity board had a profit of Rs 564 crores. He also informed that the AAP government had closed 12 toll plazas so far.
Schools Education Minister, Harjot Singh Bains, announced that all government schools in the state will have Wi-Fi connectivity by March 31, 2024. He also informed that all schools with over 500 students would have a security guard on duty.
Transport Minister, Laljit Singh Bhullar, announced that new bus permits would be given only to “Aam aadmi” and not to the elite and the rich. He revealed that the department had earned over Rs 661 crores.
Sports Minister Gurmeet Singh Meet Hayer reinforced that Punjab’s sports policy has yielded very good results and response. On an important question asked by News18 about there being no injury Rehab Centers in Punjab, Meet thanked for the idea and promised that soon he will start one in the state. The minister appealed to budding players to participate only in recognized sports, he informed that the Punjab Sports Department has also prepared a list of recognized sports.
Speaker of Punjab Assembly Kultar Singh Sandhwan while interacting with News 18 Punjab said he is working on the implementation & usage of Punjabi Language /mother tongue in the state, he added that he is trying that all the work of Vidhan Sabha also be done in Punjabi. He added that the Punjab government has started a campaign to educate the people about the importance of the mother tongue. He slammed Akali’s for playing politics in the state.
While referring to the recent reports of deaths of youngsters in foreign countries, NRI Affairs Minister, Kuldeep Singh Dhaliwal, said while stress is a major contributor, drugs too play a significant role, especially in Canada where drugs are a major problem. He also referred to the ongoing trend of “paper marriages” for seeking foreign visas. “They don’t marry, but get into marriage deals”, he said while adding that these marriages are not meant to last. He also advocated for good relations with foreign countries and said that any tension proves detrimental mainly to the Indians and NRIs settled there.
Referring to the rise in COVID cases of the new variant JN.1 across India, health minister Balbir Singh said there was no need to be scared of the virus, but precautions are always helpful. He said the state is fully prepared to deal with any threat of COVID-19. He said Punjab’s Mohalla clinics, set up on the lines of Delhi, had been extremely successful and was being talked about in different parts of the world. He said these had benefited people to the tune of Rs 600 crores, as all diagnostic tests including Xray etc, and medicines are free for patients. The Minister announced that free facilities of X-ray, ultrasound, tests, and medicines will be available in all government hospitals of Punjab from January 26, 2024.
Local Government Minister Balkar Singh while talking at Agenda Punjab said that sewage treatment plants (STP) are being set up at war footing in many cities of the state and more than 100 STP plants are already running. He added that cities are being developed under the Mann govt. and problems of sewerage and water are being resolved.
Tourism & Culture Affairs Minister Anmol Gagan Maan while talking about the tourism dept. said that investors are coming to Punjab after the successful Rangla Punjab Tourism Summit 2023, held in September. She informed that an investment worth Rs 600-700 crores has already arrived in Pathankot. She added that a Theme Park worth Rs 400 crores is proposed in Mohali to attract tourists.
Eleven top ministers of the AAP government as well as the Speaker of the Assembly attended the New18 mega event, which focused on Punjab’s socio-political and economic issues, the upcoming Lok Sabha elections among others, and the way forward. The event aimed to understand the future Vision of the Punjab government and set the agenda for 2024.
The impactful debates were moderated by the channel’s team of leading anchors.