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HindustanTimes Fri,28 Nov 2014

Cong MLAs stage walkout seeking white paper on drug issue

PTI  Chandigarh, July 18, 2014
First Published: 19:30 IST(18/7/2014) | Last Updated: 08:23 IST(19/7/2014)

Congress MLAs on Friday staged awalkout in the Punjab Assembly in protest against the state government's failure to come up with a white paper on cases lodged against drug peddlers and the number of police officers involved in smuggling.

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During the Question Hour, Congress MLA Rana Gurmit Singh Sodhi sought reply from Punjab deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal on the question of whether the state government would issue a white paper on the issue or not.

The Congress wanted record of cases lodged against drug peddlers since January 1, 2014, the number of police officials involved in illegal activities regarding drug smuggling and the details of departmental action taken against them so far.

Assembly speaker Charanjit Singh Atwal, however, granted extension to Badal for giving reply on the issue, drawing sharp reactions from Congress legislators who accused the government of running away from speaking on a issue the state was grappling with.

"It is unfair... We never expected that they (SAD-BJP) will run away. Why the state government is not giving reply. We want answer," Leader of the Opposition Sunil Jakhar said.

Atwal said that he had already granted extension to Badal. "Reply will come," said the speaker.

Sodhi said that it (drug abuse) was a burning issue of the state and remained adamant on a debate. "We are not here just for the state government's criticism. The people will not forgive us if we do not address this issue," Sodhi said, while insisting on a debate on the drug menace.

As the Congress MLA insisted on a debate, Badal asked the opposition not to politicise the issue. "I have requested the speaker for granting an extension. I will reply on Monday or Tuesday," he said.

Not satisfied with Badal's reply, Congress MLAs rushed to the Well of the House, demanding debate on the issue. Amid exchange of words between treasury and opposition benches, Congress MLAs walked out of the House

Later during the Zero Hour, Leader of the Opposition Jakhar asked the government about status of the Rs. 2,100-crore fund sanctioned for cleaning rivers in the state and Rs. 1,200-crore fund for sewerage and drinking water project.

Jakhar said Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal had even moved a motion of thanks in the state Assembly for thanking former Union environment minister Jairam Ramesh for his support in making Punjab rivers pollution free.

"The project (of rivers cleaning) is still hanging fire," said Jakhar, adding that Rs. 2,100 crore sanctioned for this project had lapsed. However, the deputy chief minister said the project was in various stages of implementation.

Jakhar also asked what happened to the proposed sewerage plants. He said out of 35 proposals sent by Punjab government, only five projects were approved.

Later talking to reporters, Jakhar accused the state government of befooling public with false assurances on cleaning rivers and launching sewerage projects in the state.

"The state government is only making false promises," he said.

Meanwhile, during the Question Hour, Punjab education minister Daljeet Singh Cheema moved a resolution in the Assembly on matters related to school education.

The resolution recommended the Centre for restarting examination from Class I till VIII, holding board exams for class V and VIII and ensuring that only successful students are promoted into next class by bringing amendment to the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act 2009 in order to improve the standards of education in the state.

Yesterday, Congress MLA Tarlochan Singh had sought framing of a separate law other than the existing one where students get promoted to next class despite being poor in academics till eighth standard.

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