Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal on Wednesday urged Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to intervene and impress upon the railway ministry to set up a new rail link between Bathinda and Talwandi Sabo an important centre of pilgrimage among Sikhs where the historic Takht Damdama Sahib is located.
Badal called on Manmohan at his residence in Delhi and told the PM that the five Takhts (seats of temporal authority) were the Sikh community's holiest shrines which millions of pilgrims from across the world visited to pay obeisance.
Badal said among the Takhts at Amritsar, Patna, Anandpur Sahib, Hazur Sahib and Talwandi Sabo, it was only Takht Damdama Sahib at Talwandi Sabo which was not connected with a rail link, according to a government spokesperson.
The chief minister said the distance between Bathinda and Talwandi Sabo was about 30km. "Keeping in view Sikh sentiments, the Prime Minister must ask the railway ministry to expedite the process of establishing a new rail link between these places. Later, the chief minister also met union railway minister Pawan Kumar Bansal," the spokesperson said.
Badal also urged the PM to expedite the process of granting requisite approval for setting up a cancer hospital at Mullanpur near Chandigarh. The CM informed Manmohan that land for the proposed hospital had already been handed over to the department of atomic energy by the state government. The detailed project report for this hospital, being set up at a cost of Rs 450 crore, was likely to be finalised this week, after which it would be presented before the union cabinet by the PMO for approval.
Badal also sought Rs 5,000-crore grant under the technology mission for agriculture diversification in the 12th Five-Year Plan. Badal said maize and soya were the best alternative crops to paddy in Punjab.
"Crop diversification can only become possible if the minimum support price (MSP) and an assured market for these two crops is provided," Badal told the PM.
He requested the Prime Minister to set up a sub-centre of the directorate of soya research, Indore, in Punjab for promoting the soya initiative.
Badal also sought a special package to revive cooperative sugar mills in the state, besides rollback of excise duty levied on the bicycle industry.