Union minister of state for planning, science and technology and earth sciences Ashwani Kumar said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi were taking a keen interest in the development of Punjab, that was why there was a 22% increase in its annual plan as compared to the last year.
He was addressing a press conference at his house here on Saturday.
The minister said a large part of the annual plan would be spent on ensuring the supply of clean drinking water and cleaning of the 10,396 traditional ponds in the villages of the state. He said the National Planning Commission member Mihir Shah would soon visit Punjab to address its water-related problems.
Ashwani said scientists from the National Bio-Technology Department, Punjab Agricultural University and the Gurdaspur Research Station would jointly conduct a research on bio-fuel.
He said the Centre had given Rs 60 lakh to the state government for making vocational skill development centres for the youth of the districts falling in the border belt of Punjab. He said the trained youth would have job opportunities in the industrial units in Amritsar and Batala.
The Union minister said the Centre had given Rs 74 crore to Punjab for the upgrade of ITIs, but it had spent only Rs 40 crore, while the rest of the amount was lying unused with the state government.
Minister inspects construction of old age home
Union minister Ashwani Kumar inspected the construction work of the old age home coming up on two acres of land given by the state government at Babri village near here on Saturday.
He had given Rs 2.02 crore from his MPLAD fund for the project.
Speaking on the occasion, Kumar said the under-construction 64-bed old age home was likely to be completed by September. He said it would be have all medical facilities, a theatre for entertainment of inmates and a regular housekeeper. He said it would be funded by both the state and central governments.