When union finance minister Arun Jaitley came to Amritsar to contest his first Lok Sabha election, he rolled out his ‘vision document’ in which he promised the moon to the people, but in his first budget presented in Parliament on Thursday he seems to have lost track of his visionary zeal.
He seems to have forgotten the youth, whose energies he promised to channelise in different avenues so that they do not get hooked onto drugs. Neither was there any talk of turning Amritsar into a ‘smart city’, though he did make a mention of such cities coming up in the country.
All that the FM gave to the holy city was to club it with Mathura, Gaya, Kanchipuram, Vellankani and Ajmer, for an allocation of Rs. 200 crore for preserving and conserving the heritage nature of these places under the national Heritage City Development and Augmentation Yojana (Hriday).
“Will the creation of jobs through development of tourism change the fortune of Punjab or of Amritsar? At a time when a large number of youths addicted to drugs are coming forward to de-addiction centres for cure, the FM should have given a major employment generating project to the city,” felt RTI activist Naresh Johar.
Johar and others feel Jaitley had taken revenge on the people of Amritsar for his defeat to Congress candidate Capt Amarinder Singh.
Economist RS Bawa, vice-chancellor of Chandigarh University, observed, “I will not say that the FM has taken revenge for his loss. Priority should have been given where it was required. There is a personal crisis in his budget.” Bawa, too, felt that the FM could have allocated special funds for infrastructural development of the city.
Turning to the revenge aspect, Johar felt that this could be gauged from the fact that Jaitley did not come, not even once, to thank the people who had voted for him.
Sukhdev Singh, convener of the local unit of INTACH, welcomed the inclusion of the city under Hriday.
“This will provide more funds for development and also make the local authorities more responsible towards heritage structures.”
Tarun Chugh, state BJP general secretary, said, “Jaitley had presented a fine budget. It covers all sectors and helps the common man. As far as Amritsar is concerned, the FM has included it in the tourism circuit. Also, it is likely to be in the smart city segment. This is not peanuts. I want to ask the critics and the Congress that son of the city Manmohan Singh was the prime minister for 10 years. What did he do for Amritsar?”
Creating job opportunities in a bid to channelise energy of youth
Creation of six polytechnics, 6 ITIs and upgrading existing ones
Broadband connectivity in rural areas
Setting up additional 25,000 SMEs
Entrepreneurial development centre for training
Special incentives for border area farmers
Just eyewash: Amarinder
Referring to the inclusion of Amritsar in Hriday, deputy leader in the Lok Sabha Capt Amarinder Singh said it was just eyewash. Amarinder said Rs. 200 crore had been allocated for the scheme which meant Amritsar would get a mere Rs. 40 crore. He said it was a half-hearted gesture apparently aimed at keeping people in good humour.
Amarinder wasn’t present: Harsimrat
Union minister for food processing Harsimrat Kaur Badal ridiculed deputy leader of opposition in Lok Sabha Capt Amarinder Singh saying he wasn’t even present during the budget speech proposals where Amritsar, his parliamentary constituency, was picked up to be developed as a world heritage city.