iconimg Saturday, August 29, 2015

Pawan Sharma, Hindustan Times
Chandigarh, August 22, 2013
Beginning Saturday, Punjab deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal, along with a battery of bureaucrats, will scout Dubai and Istanbul city of Turkey to diagnose various problems the urban areas of Punjab have been facing. Government sources say the deputy CM and his entourage will leave for Dubai on  Friday evening. During the eight-day official tour concluding on August 31, the delegation will spend four days in Dubai and three in Istanbul.

The officers handpicked for the tour are PS Aujla, principal secretary to deputy chief minister; Manvesh Singh Sidhu; special principal secretary to deputy CM; Anurag Agarwal, managing director of Punjab Infrastructure Development Board (PIDB); A Venu Prasad, secretary, housing and urban development; Ashok Gupta, secretary, local bodies; AK Sinha, chief administrator of GMADA; Rakesh Verma, Ludhiana municipal corporation commissioner and Yogesh Goyal, AMD of the PIDB.

The objective behind the visit is to explore how the bus rapid transport system (BRTS) functions in Istanbul and to study the solid waste management system of Turkey. In Dubai, the team will hold meetings with the leading players in the field of infrastructure development.

But in political circles, eyebrows are being raised over Sukhbir's decision of not taking along any other elected public representative such as mayors or ministers.

The nine-member delegation will visit convention and exhibition centres, besides holding meetings with prospective investors and some companies reputed for expertise in solid waste management. The team will also focus on the steps Dubai and Turkey have taken to develop tourism destinations and in planning of urban areas.

"The delegation will also interact with investors as the government plans to launch infrastructure development projects in Ludhiana, SAS Nagar and Amritsar in public private partnership mode," a government source said.

In Istanbul, the major focus will be on studying the BRTS, which the government plans to start in Ludhiana and Amritsar. The BRTS already launched in Ahmedabad and other cities aims at affordable public transport network which enables hassle-free journey through buses in the shortest possible time.