MansaSites for rural focal point scheme, a dream project launched by former Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal in 1977-78, have turned into a safe haven for drug addicts in Mansa. The scheme was introduced to provide employment to rural youth and to make the necessary facilities available to the village population near their homes. The project, having 19 focal point centres in the district, failed to take off and most of the buildings have either been taken over by other departments or are lying vacant. The project was abandoned during the Congress regime and despite the Badal government’s promise to revive it in 1997, nothing was done on the ground. FOCAL POINT PROJECTUnder the project, 10-20 acres were to be developed as a focal point and plots were to be allotted to entrepreneurs to run their business. Other facilities to be provided included 10 to 20 shops, hospital, veterinary hospital, marketing yards and agro service centres for distribution of seeds and pesticides.The focal point hit the headlines in June last year when two youths died of drug overdose at Joga village in Mansa. Villagers raised hue and cry and what followed was political visits and passionate speeches but the situation remained the same. HT PhotoA rural focal point lying defunct in Govindpura village in Mansa.Some of the villagers who spoke to this correspondent termed the focal point wastage of resources by the government. “The scheme was launched by the Akali government but no efforts were made for its upkeep. The government should either revive it or give it to villagers to utilise it for some other purpose,” said Baldev Singh Makha, former chairman of the market committee in Bhikhi town.Parkash Singh of Makha village said the 25 acres acquired for the focal point has nothing to offer to the farmers. Gurcharan Singh, whose grandson died last year due to drug overdose, expressed his anger at what happened last year and the failure of the government to check the rampant use of drugs in the focal point building. “The authorities are not concerned. It has been a year since my grandson died, but the police have failed to keep a check on addicts coming to the building in the evening,” he said. General manager, district industries centre, Shami Bansal said the project failed to take off due to a lot of reasons, including the rate on which the land was given on lease to the interested parties. Besides, people did not show interest in the project.