Modi's visit to Ferozepur rekindles hopes of development of residents | punjab | Hindustan Times
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Modi's visit to Ferozepur rekindles hopes of development of residents

Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to Ferozepur on Monday has rekindled hopes of residents of this border town to get a chance of conveying their long-pending grievances to him.

punjab Updated: Mar 21, 2015 23:17 IST
Gaurav Sagar Bhaskar

Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to Ferozepur on Monday has rekindled hopes of residents of this border town to get a chance of conveying their long-pending grievances to him.

Modi is coming here to pay homage to martyrs Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev on their 85th martyrdom day at Hussainiwala, 10 km from here. Modi had earlier visited Hussainiwala on March 6, 2007 when he was chief minister of Gujarat.

Local people want Modi be apprised about the pathetic conditions in which they are living with for long.
Ajay Tuli, a local businessman, said, "It's high time that the Hussainiwala border with Pakistan be reopened for trade and traffic. The trade centre was running successfully till the border was closed during the 1971 Indo-Pak war."

No efforts have been made by any government since then to open the trade route here, and the situation resulted in the economic backwardness of the area, he added.

"The absence of land ownership rights in Ferozepur Cantonment, besides imposition of octroi in the area, had led to a sense of 'discrimination' among the residents," said Nand Kishore Guggan, a leading commission agent.

The 45,000-odd population residing in the civilian area of the cantonment are up in arms against the successive and present state as well as central governments because, despite paying taxes, they are not entitled to rights ownership of the land in which they had constructed their residential and commercial establishments, he said.

Last year, even the Punjab and Haryana high court ordered a CBI probe into the sale andunauthorised construction of bunglows in the cantonment area and a sword of demolition has been hanging on many buildings while the registration and power of attorney have been banned by the court till further orders.

Even though the Punjab government abolished octroi in the state years ago but passing through the cantonment without paying the same invites fine, as the administration of the area falls under the Cantonment Board of the army, which charges octroi, said Abhishek Arora, a social activist.

Situated at a stone's throw from the Indo-Pakistan international border, Ferozepur, scattered over 5,303 sq km, was at the pinnacle of opulence during pre-Independence days and was one of the richest districts of Punjab, but Partition sounded a death knell for it, said 73-year-old Prof HK Gupta.

During almost seven decades since Independence, neither any state nor any central government paid any need to set up any government or private industrial unit here, which resulted in lack of job avenues in the area and poor living standard of the people, so it is high to act, agonised local resident Dr SN Rudra pointed out.

Congress MLA Parminder Singh Pinki demanded compensation to farmers cultivating land across the fencing on the Indo-Pak border besides round-the- clock access to them to go to their land.
The Union government should establish an army tent- making factory at Ferozepur to facilitate job avenues to border youth, he said.

Pinki said, "Being in the border villages, the youth of the region remain backward educationally so they should be given relaxation in recruitment to the army and paramilitary forces."

He also wanted the Union government to raise the issue of inflow of polluted water through the Satluj into the Indian side from Pakistan-based leather factories with the Pakistan government.