Legislators of the SAD-BJP alliance on Tuesday engaged in a war of words with their own cabinet ministers during the question hour in the ongoing budget session in the Punjab legislative assembly.
The House witnessed the first verbal clash between agriculture minister Tota Singh and Akali MLA from Bholath, Bibi Jagir Kaur, when she asked the former the time limit by which the grain market of Damulia at Nadala in Kapurthala would be completed and made functional.
Though Tota Singh replied that the grain market would be made functional by March 31, 2017, the Bibi was unhappy.
“It is good that you have informed the House about the completion of the grain market, but when would the government begin work on it. It has been four years since its foundation stone was laid by deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal and even chief minister Parkash Singh Badal assured its early completion, but nothing moved thereafter,” the Bibi said.
Tota Singh said the earmarked place for the grain market needed earth work of Rs 1.5 crore and another Rs 1 crore was required to get its flooring done. “Why don’t you get the earth work done on your own? In my constituency, I have got several works done on my own. Or give us the money to get it done,” the minister said.
“I helped the government acquire 15 acres of land worth Rs 15 crore for just Rs 1.27 crore. It is not my job to arrange the money for work. The government should do it,” the Bibi said.
Akali MLA Darshan Singh Shivalik wanted to know from revenue minister Bikram Singh Majithia if there was a proposal for upgrading Hambran township in Ludhiana to subdivision considering its industrial development and the increase in population and traffic.
To this, Majithia replied in the negative. When Shivalik argued, Majithia informed the speaker that Shivalik during the past one year had never discussed the matter with him. “He should come and present himself (darshan den) in my office and we will see if the matter could be taken up in the cabinet.” To this Shivalik said, “Sir, I will present myself in your court (darbar) soon,” to the delight of the members.
The Bibi again locked horns, this time with local bodies minister Anil Joshi, from whom she wanted to know the status of laying sewerage and the sewage treatment plant at Dhilwan town in Kapurthala and when would it be made functional.
Joshi explained that 80% work of laying sewerage network was complete. “However, the work on the main pumping station and the sewage plant could start only after acquisition of land which is under progress,” Joshi said.
“When does the government plan to acquire the land? It has been more than four years. It should have been completed in 19 months. The funds were released and the money was also allocated. So what is holding the government now,” the Bibi wondered. The moment Joshi suggested that the Bibi should help the government acquire the land at cheap rates as the project already cost Rs 15 crore, the Akali MLA said, “Should I even take my question back if you are not serious in providing relief to the people.”
Akali MLA Justice Nirmal Singh (retd) told rural development and panchayat minister Sikander Singh Maluka that a large number of focal points which were started on panchayat lands were lying non-functional and the government should consider returning the land to the panchayats.
Though Maluka said majority of the focal points were working fine, the Akali MLA differed. “The panchayats can utilise the land for augmenting their income in case the focal points have become redundant,” the MLA said.