Tuesday July 17, 2018
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Badal launches second World Bank-funded water, sanitation project to give state open-defecation free

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Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal on Wednesday launched the second World Bank-funded Rs.2,200-crore project aimed at improving water and sanitation services and creating open defecation-free environment in the state.

He sought further World Bank assistance for skill development, reviving rural economy and promoting tourism and culture. In his address on the occasion, Badal thanked the World Bank, especially country director Onno Ruhl, for getting the project sanctioned much before the closure of the ongoing project, costing Rs.750 crore, on June 30.

He expressed confidence that with the concerted efforts of the state, departments of water supply and sanitation and rural development and panchayats would set an example by completing this gigantic task within two years, much ahead of the deadline of 2019 fixed by the Indian government under ‘Swachh Bharat Abhiyan’ (Clean Indian Programme).

“I am delighted to learn that the total achievement under the first project was 125 percent which is unprecedented so far in any development project funded by the World Bank in the country,” the chief minister said. The new project aims to provide a toilet and water connection in all the households within next three years. Likewise, all the existing rural water supply schemes would be augmented to provide 70 litres per capita per day (lpcd) against the current consumption of 40 lpcd.

ParkashSinghBadal
Photo: Sanyam Bahga

Badal pointed out that enhancement of water supply scheme to 70 lpcd would make it technically feasible to provide water connections to all households as required.

“This, in turn, would lead to financial sustainability of rural water supply schemes and the villagers would have access to minimum 10-hour water supply.”

Badal said Punjab was already committed to provide clean and safe water to people, especially in rural areas, and earmarked Rs.300 crore to provide treated surface water to 121 villages of Moga and Barnala districts.

Speaking on the significance of skill development, the chief minister urged the World Bank’s country director to help Punjab in training the youth to be gainfully employed.

He also sought the World Bank support and cooperation for allowing the state to have an exclusive water supply and sanitation sub-project on design, build, operate terms for 110 waterlogged villages in Muktsar, Fazilka, Bathinda and Faridkot districts of the Malwa belt.

Badal also sought funding for ongoing tourism and cultural projects to showcase state’s glorious heritage and rich legacy across the globe.

A spokesperson for the government told IANS that World Bank country director Ruhl, who met Badal over dinner Tuesday, said he would again visit the state next month to have detailed discussions on skill development, reviving rural economy and promoting tourism and culture.

-(IANS)

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Punjab’s Aam Aadmi Party and Its Political Self Goals

Each one of the top leaders in the AAP Punjab unit is on its own journey

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Punjab's Aam Aadmi Party Is In Confusion, Due To Political Self Goals
Punjab's Aam Aadmi Party Is In Confusion, Due To Political Self Goals, Flickr

For a political party that was taking a serious shot at coming to power in Punjab less than two years ago, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) appears to have gone wayward.

Despite the electorate in Punjab reposing trust in the party by making it the principal opposition in the first ever assembly polls that it contested in February last year, the party leadership in Punjab and in Delhi have brought it to a new political low with a series of flip-flops and self-goals.

The AAP, which has 20 seats in the 117-member state assembly, relegated the formidable political alliance of the Shiromani Akali Dal and BJP to a humiliating third slot but is fast losing its votebank in the state.

In recent by-elections, be it for Lok Sabha or assembly seats, the AAP candidates have not only fared badly but had to face humiliation by even losing their security deposits.

In the Shahkot assembly seat bypoll last month, the AAP candidate got a mere 1,900 votes.

Each one of the top leaders in the AAP Punjab unit is on its own journey while the Delhi leadership of the party, including AAP national convener and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and Punjab in-charge Manish Sisodia, show wariness, indifference and even suspicion about the Punjab leaders.

Senior AAP leader and Leader of Opposition in the state assembly Sukhpal Singh Khaira is known to shoot off his mouth on every matter. His recent comments justifying the ‘Referendum 2020’ propped up by foreign-based radical elements who are demanding a separate Sikh homeland, or Khalistan, has sparked a new controversy for him and the AAP.

Khaira, a former Congressman, has left the party embarrassed on earlier occasions as well.

Just about two years back, the AAP was riding high on popularity in Punjab and many believed it was all set to form its first full-fledged state government.

That was not to be Kejriwal and his core group of leaders seem to have lost interest in Punjab affairs for now. Kejriwal’s apology to senior Akali Dal leader and former cabinet minister Bikram Singh Majithia earlier this year, which happened without even consulting the Punjab leadership of the party, led to resignations within the party with the cadres on the ground feeling disappointed.

AAP has scrapped the list of its Donors, leading to its own volunteers launching a Chanda Bandh Satyagraha against their own party.
AAP has scrapped the list of its Donors, leading to its own volunteers launching a Chanda Bandh Satyagraha against their own party.

AAP Punjab unit president and MP Bhagwant Mann, who has had his own string of controversies earlier, and co-president Aman Arora, resigned from their posts after Kejriwal’s sudden apology.

Kejriwal and other AAP leaders, in the run-up to the 2017 assembly polls, had openly accused Majithia of patronising the drugs mafia in Punjab. They even called him a “drug lord”.

When Majithia went to court in a defamation case against the AAP leadership, the Delhi leaders chickened out and Kejriwal wrote an apology letter to Majithia.

Offering apologies and doing voluntary service (kar seva) to atone for political sins is nothing new for AAP leaders.

The ‘Youth Manifesto’ of AAP, released before the assembly polls, carried a photograph of ‘Harmandir Sahib’, the holiest and most revered Sikh shrine of Sikh religion, with an image of a broom, the AAP’s party symbol. This led to a religious uproar in Sikh dominated Punjab.

Kejriwal and other leaders washed utensils at the Golden Temple complex to “atone” for the political and religious faus pax.

AAP leader Ashish Khetan compared the same manifesto to religious scriptures like Granth Sahib, the Bible and the Gita. The AAP had to again seek forgiveness for this.

The AAP’s stand on sharing of river waters varies in Delhi and Punjab, leaving the party embarrassed at times.

Chanda Bandh Satyagraha back in Delhi after successful Campaign in Punjab, Feb 24th 2017
Chanda Bandh Satyagraha back in Delhi after successful Campaign in Punjab, Feb 24th 2017

The electorate in Punjab, which gave four seats to AAP (out of 13 Lok Sabha seats), has been left disaapointed. Two of the AAP MPs continue to be suspended from the party for the last three years.

Also read: Dogfight in Aam Aadmi Party : The audio clip of Kumar Vishwas reveals the party is no longer for principles but for personal aspirations

If AAP is to revive its position in Punjab, its leadership — in Punjab and in Delhi — would have to take drastic steps to stop the erosion of its base. Otherwise, the party would end up being a one-time wonder. (IANS)