The decision of local Member of Parliament (MP) and former chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh to adopt Dhaul Kalan under the ‘Sansad Adarsh Gram Yojana’ is like a god sent gift for the residents of the village.
It indeed is a god sent gift as for around 10 years the residents have not seen even a brick being fixed in the lanes or streets of their village. That is why every family of the village, irrespective of its political affiliations, has appreciated the gesture of their MP.
As the village was Congress-dominated, Akali politicians of the area ensured that money for development did not reach the village. Since 2007, little or no state funds reached the village for development purposes.
Amarinder, while selecting the village for development under the plan, had said, “I chose this village because it has suffered during the years of the SAD-BJP rule in the state. It was denied funds for development by the government for the simple reason that the local MLA (of Raja Sansi constituency) belongs to the village and the sarpanch also belongs to our party. The people here were punished for siding with the Congress.”
Such was the apathy of the ruling party leaders towards this village that even grants that were promised by chief minister Parkash Singh Badal during a ‘sangat darshan’ never reached the village.
Akali leaders of the Raja Sansi assembly segment, in which the village falls, thought that by denying grants they could change the political leanings of the residents, but they were mistaken as the residents continue to stand behind Sukhbinder Singh Sarkaria, their MLA and a former sarpanch of the village.
“Badal always speaks about step-motherly treatment by the Congress to Punjab. But for Dhaul Kalan, Badal is the stepfather,” stated Sukh Sarkaria, who is MLA from the Raja Sansi constituency for the second consecutive term.
Current sarpanch Dilraj Singh Sarkaria, a nephew of the MLA, is thankful to Amarinder for adopting his village. “The chief minister often denies discriminating against political parties and villages in matter of disbursement of grants for development. But our village suffered, as the majority here votes for the Congress,” said Dilraj, while talking to Hindustan Times at his residence in the village.
A glaring example of discrimination that the sarpanch pointed out related to disbursement of grants released by the central government on the recommendations of the 13th Finance Commission. “Despite the grants having reached the office of the block development officer of Verka, not a penny was given to Dhaul Kalan,” said Dilraj.
Under the 13th Finance Commission every village in the country is allocated a certain amount for development, depending on its population. The money for this purpose is rooted via the state government and the deputy commissioner’s office to the block level. It is the block level officer who decides the allocation for each village, depending on size and population of villages.
Dilraj stated: “In the past five years, every village in Verka block got these funds barring our village. Akali leaders of our area have specifically instructed the block officials not to disburse the money to us.”
However, the good news is that the block development and panchayat officer (BDPO) has agreed to release funds from the last installment of the 13th Finance Commission, which term has come to an end. An amount of rs 1.42 crore has been allocated to Verka block, and Sarkaria hopes that he will get around Rs 5 lakh.
“Perhaps, we are getting the amount as our village has now been adopted for development by Amarinder,” stated the sarpanch.
The sarpanch pointed out that the village lanes and drains were constructed about 20 years back when Sukh Sarkaria was the sarpanch. These are in need of repair but all pleas of the panchayat have gone unheard, he claimed.
Sarkaria listed out a number of other problems of the village, including drainage of rain water and up-gradation of the middle school to senior secondary level. One such demand, that is, of a panchayat ghar was met on Wednesday with deputy commissioner Ravi Bhagat sanctioning an amount of Rs 12 lakh.
It was when Sukh Sarkaria was chairman of the Punjab Mandi Board during the tenure of Amarinder (as CM) that the link road to the village was widened and re-laid. A number of other link roads to villages in the vicinity of Dhaul Kalan were also repaired then.
Whatever little development was done in the past few years was out of the funds that the panchayat had collected by yearly auctioning of 21 acres of panchayat land. However the residents are now hoping for a change for the better.