A major traffic bottleneck at the entry point to the holy city on national highway-1 has now ceased to exist with deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal, on Wednesday, inaugurating a multilane high-level overbridge at Taranwala Pul, a place which often witnessed traffic jams, causing much inconvenience to commuters.
This overpass over the Upper Bari Doab Canal was completed in record 10 months at a cost of Rs 25 crore.
Dedicating the project to the people, Sukhbir said the SAD-BJP government was vigorously implementing its development agenda. He said that in the last three days alone, he had personally inaugurated or dedicated Rs 1,117-crore road projects, including four-lane highways, railway overbridges and roads along canals.
Addressing the media after the inauguration, he said Amritsar was at the top of his priority list as he himself had decided to head the first ever "Metropolitan Council" being constituted for the planned development and growth of the city.
Sukhbir said the council, which would include public representatives and experts, would draw up a master plan for the city that would include laying sewerage network, upgradation and widening of roads, building futuristic infrastructure for the city, heritage preservation, besides planned traffic management and removal of all unauthorised encroachments.
He said the Amritsar gateway to South East Asia is all set to witness a sea change with an investment of Rs 3,500 crore on this master plan, which will be executed in the next three years.
When questioned about the deteriorating law and order situation in the city, Sukhbir said the police commissioner had been given a one-point brief to take petty crimes like snatchings, eve-teasing and thefts seriously. Those responsible must be tracked down and punished as only then could public confidence in the police machinery be restored, he said.
He made if clear that the area SHO in whose area the crime takes place would be personally accountable and responsible for this.
He said strict instructions had been issued to improve the traffic scenario in the state, check wrong parking, red light jumping, besides overspeeding and driving under the influence of alcohol.
Sukhbir said the modernisation plan of the police included intensive CCTV surveillance in all big cities, including Amritsar. This would be quite helpful in checking the crime rate and improving the traffic scenario.
Asked whether fresh taxes were being levied by the state government, he said the government would hold discussions and then take a decision.
"It is basically revenue generation or mobilisation plan, and the funds collected from the public will be utilised for developmental purposes. We believe in the principle of accountability," said Sukhbir.
He rubbished the criticism from certain quarters of giving priority to rural areas and said the SAD was not a rural-based party as its MLAs had won 70% urban seats. He said every section of the society, including the rural population, would have to contribute their share in the development of the state.
Upgrading sports infrastructure
Expressing concern over the poor showing by the Indian hockey team in the London Olympic, Sukhbir said there was a dire need to inculcate sports culture in children. He also stressed on the need to upgrade sports infrastructure in the state.
"Like China, we will have to catch and groom children at a very early age. Then only can we produce world-class sportspersons and win medals," he said.
Sukhbir said that as part of the government's plans, a sports policy was already in place. It has been decided to open one sports school in each district and the first school has started functioning in Ghudda village.
He said he has already approved a Rs 214-crore Sports Village Infrastructure Upgradation Plan, besides ordering to fill the backlog of 3% sports quota in government jobs.
Local MP Navjot Singh Sidhu, his wife and chief parliamentary secretary Dr Navjot Kaur Sidhu and local MLA Inderbir Singh Bolaria were also present at the inauguration.