The Punjab Congress on Friday staged a walkout in the state assembly in protest against the SAD-BJP government for “keeping the people in the dark” on laying of sewerage, water supply and sewage treatment plants (STPs) in around 25 towns, though the Centre had withdrawn the scheme under Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM).
Opposition leader Sunil Jakhar, during the question hour, asked local bodies minister Anil Joshi in how many towns deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal had laid the foundation stones in February and March 2014 for laying sewerage, water supply and STPs and when these projects would start working.
Joshi replied that the deputy chief minister laid foundation stones in 21 towns. However, the Centre had not released funds for these.
Jakhar said the minister was misleading the House. He said though the union government had cancelled the scheme on June 10, 2014, still the Punjab government had mentioned in its budget presented on July 16 last year that the Centre would provide Rs 827 crore to Punjab as its share to complete these projects.
Though Joshi assured the House that the projects would be completed by 2017, Jakhar was not convinced.
Jakhar said that first the deputy chief minister had said that the projects would be completed by February 2015 and later he put the date by December 2015 and now Joshi was assuring by 2017.
The congress began raising slogans against the SAD-BJP government for misleading the house and staged a walk out in protest.
Later talking to the media outside the assembly Jakhar said that the union government had withdrawn the scheme under the JNNURM on June 10 last year. Punjab Chief Minister, Parkash Singh Badal met the union minister on June 19 last year demanding release of money for the aforesaid projects.
However despite the union government not agreeing to the Punjab government’s request SAD-BJP government chose to put it in its budget presented on July 16, 2014 that Rs. 827 crorer would be released by the centre government under JnNurm for the projects which was misleading.
Jakhar seeks extension of session
During the question hour session when Speaker granted extension to two questions of congress legislators, Aruna Chaudhary and Harchand Kaur, CLP, leader Sunil Jakhar objected to the move.
“What is the rush? Why can’t we extend the duration of the assembly session to discuss important issues on the floor of the House instead of giving extension to the questions posed by the members”, said Jakhar.
The speaker said the extension was granted since the ministers were not prepared with the answers. “However, I promise you that the questions would be taken up on March 24 during the session.
Contamination of Ghaggar river
Congress MLA Ajit Inder Singh Mofar on Friday expressed concern about the continuous contamination of the Ghaggar, during the zero hour and sought the state government’s response about the steps being taken to remove the pollutants.
Mofar said he had been raising the issue for many years and had also brought it up in the House during the call attention motion. “Every time I raise the issue, the government gives me assurance that they would take steps to clean the water. The contamination is responsible for claiming several human and cattle lives as several villages use the polluted river water.”
Mofar said once Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal had even claimed that with the corrective steps one day he would even make him drink the river water of Ghaggar. “However all these assurances have only proved to be hollow”?
Badal told the house that villages of Punjab were no t the only ones responsible for discharging effluents into the river but also a large number of towns from the Haryana state. “I held a two hour long meeting with the Haryana chief minister on the issue to deal with the points from where the contamination into the river could be plugged. “We will soon expect to have clean water in Ghaggar river,” said Badal.