Despite their ideological differences, the top contenders for the Lok Sabha elections agree that there is a lot that the constituency requires in terms of civic amenities, academic, medical, tourism and roads infrastructure. Each has rolled out his vision for Amritsar, which entails fortification of the conveniences.
Arun Jaitley (SAD-BJP):
Releasing his vision for Amritsar, which he termed as ‘one of the most charming cities in India’ with which he cited his relationship as a visitor since his childhood days to his grandparents’ home, and later as a political campaigner, Arun Jaitley, said that the conurbation was important from religious and historical point of view, but needed a strong and improved infrastructure that was hitherto missing.
He also touched upon the need to preserve and strengthen the important historical sites, besides augmenting the gardens found here. He said, “It is a historical city founded in the sixteenth century. The city has a great religious significance. Sri Harmandir Sahib being located in the city gives it an international importance. The Durgiana Mandir, the Jallianwala Bagh, the Ram Tirath, the Attari border and the Gobind Garh Fort has religion, culture and history written all over.”
The BJP candidate maintained that the heritage sites of the city need to be preserved and strengthened. “Several old buildings such as the Khalsa College need to be projected at the national level as a symbol of high quality education,” he said.
About the city’s green lungs, he says that some gardens have been substantially improved, but need to be expanded. “It has a huge ability to attract people. Tourism will always remain a mainstay economic activity in the city,” he said. Jaitley said that he visualized an Amritsar which is connected on all sides by large highways, a city where the internal infrastructure needs to be hugely improved and where basic facilities need to be provided to a section of the people.
“There are large sections which still require connectivity for water, sewage and proper roadways. Projects under implementation need to be monitored and expedited. Several flyovers and elevated roads have been built in for the city. The lifeline of connectivity through all the flyovers like the Bhandari Bridge needs an overhaul. They need to be strengthened and expanded significantly,” he wrote.
Stating that the economy of Amritsar primarily depends on tourism, industry and trade, Jaitley said the main industrial activity has to be around the creation of a textile cluster, the agricultural implements industry, the rice mills, embroidery, jewellery, decorative items and footwear.
“These clusters need to be supported by the State. The Central Government has a scheme for adding to the infrastructure of the clusters. The trading activity is centered on various items of trade related to the production of the above mentioned items,” he maintained.
Talking about the border trade, Jaitley said that the infrastructure for opening up of the same has been established, but a last push is required to be given to the town to the expansion of the official border trade between India and Pakistan. Industrial activity will always depend on the manufacturing environment in the country and our ability with regard to low-cost manufacturing. Tourism and trade (including international trade) have a singular ability to revive and strengthen the economy of Amritsar.
He opines that for tourism to be strengthened, the road, rail and air connectivity has to be facilitated. Direct international flights are the need of the hour. A good airport needs to be better connected. “The social infrastructure of Amritsar requires multiple categories of health care -- both public and private. The promise of establishing an AIIMS in every State has to be materialized. Amritsar with a legacy of medical colleges could be an ideal location for AIIMS,” he averred.
According to Jaitley, the expansion of the industrial corridor to Amritsar can add to the spurt in economic activity in the city. “This should be accompanied by creation of suburban townships,” he said.
He added that the food of Amritsar is an essential part of its soft power. Establishment of Food Streets and a Food Village which opens into the late hour of the evening can add to the charm of the city. “A no traffic walkway food street or food village where traditional items of Punjab are sold can be a great tourist attraction. It can reflect the personality of Amritsar,” Jaitley said.
Capt Amarinder Singh (Cong):
Responding to his opponent Arun Jaitley’s vision statement, Capt Amarinder Singh said that he had prepared his vision for the city in 2006, during his tenure as Punjab CM. His 2025 (City Development Plan) envisioned good road infrastructure, water supply and sewerage connectivity and a host of other civic amenities for the city. He, however, had blamed the SAD-BJP government for ignoring it when they came to power.
Vision of Dr Daljit Singh (AAP):
Expressing concern over the lack of basic civic amenities in Amritsar, poor educational infrastructure and drug menace, Aam Aadmi Party candidate Dr Daljit Singh’s vision focuses mainly on poor academic and civic scenario and the menace of drug addiction. Issues as CCTV security, enhanced air connectivity and others too feature in his Vision Document.
Alluding to the city’s title ‘Sifti Da Ghar’, Dr Daljit Singh said the metropolis was easily the pride of Punjab. He lamented that of late it has become “Drugs da ghar”, a far cry from its glorious title. Expressing concern over the rampant use of alcohol, he said that this has become socially acceptable and has led to its widespread addiction. “Children, more than anyone else need to be primed from their formative years to be aware of the ill effects of alcohol,” AAP candidate said.
“My concentration would be on providing stable roads infrastructure, solid waste management, potable water supply, sewerage water management, sanitation, proficiency in school education and vocational training, public healthcare services, fighting the menace of drugs, playgrounds, ban on plastic bags, revival of small and medium business enterprises, making Amritsar a tourist friendly city and conservation of historical buildings,” he maintained.
Stating that development is not possible without adequate funds and resources, Dr Singh proposes to device ways and means to attract investments from government and non government sources to be used for development works. “NGOs like Rotary and Lions Clubs shall also be approached to help us in this venture,” Dr Singh averred.