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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)

Next Story

Sukhpal Singh Khaira’s Exit Raises Questions Over AAP’s Future in Punjab

Though the damage done by the party to itself in the last three years will be known after the forthcoming parliamentary elections, it will be a sad day for people in Punjab who saw AAP as a third viable option but were let down by the party itself

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File photo: Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal with Deputy CM Manish Sisodia.

The recent exit of politically outspoken leader Sukhpal Singh Khaira from the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) fold in Punjab, at a time when general elections are around the corner, has raised a question mark over the party’s political future in the state.

It is not that Khaira, who was elected on the AAP ticket in the February 2017 assembly polls, was indispensable for the party in Punjab.

His exit, however, has shown that the AAP central leadership in Delhi continues to be unaffected by the self-created crisis in the Punjab unit that began in August 2016.

Khaira, who was suspended from the AAP along with another legislator, Kanwar Sandhu, in November 2018 for “anti-party activities”, last week floated a new party – Punjabi Ekta Party (PEP) – and has given enough indications of splitting the AAP down the middle.

Six AAP legislators in the state were present at the launch of the new party even though they did not share the stage with Khaira.

The AAP’s Punjab unit is in complete disarray – be it the leadership crisis, lack of political direction or agenda or the complete disillusionment of its cadre.

Max hospital
Arvind Kejriwal.

It’s not the first time that the AAP central leadership has committed political harakiri with the Punjab unit. It has become clear now that the AAP central leadership, instead of letting the Punjab unit take on the ruling Congress and the SAD-BJP alliance, ends up shooting itself in the foot every time.

Khaira was earlier unceremoniously removed as Leader of Opposition (LoP) by the AAP central leadership in July 2018. He openly rebelled against the party high command by dissolving the the AAP’s Punjab organisational structure and seeking complete autonomy for the state unit.

The AAP ousted its then Punjab unit chief, Sucha Singh Chhotepur, on flimsy bribery charges in August 2016, just months ahead of the assembly polls.

Chhotepur, who nurtured the party right from the day of its conception in Punjab, was shown the door after the emergence of a video clip in which an AAP worker was shown giving money to him. Even before this, Chhotepur was being sidelined in Punjab affairs with Delhi leaders like Sanjay Singh and Durgesh Pathak calling all the shots.

As the Chhotepur episode unfolded, AAP leaders at the constituency and district level rebelled. Chhotepur, who accused the AAP central leadership of corruption in allotting tickets for various assembly seats, finally exited the party and formed a new political outfit – the Apna Punjab Party (APP) that has practically remained a non-starter.

The AAP appointed actor-comedian Gurpreet Ghuggi, with no political experience, as its state convener in place of Chhotepur. Ghuggi left the party on a sour note just months later.

Two AAP MPs from Punjab, Dharamvira Gandhi and Harinder Khalsa, were suspended in August 2015 for questioning the AAP’s leadership style.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal with Delhi’s Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia. Flickr

Gandhi, a cardiologist and known social worker, is the MP from Patiala constituency, while Khalsa, a former diplomat, represents Fatehgarh Sahib in the Lok Sabha. Gandhi was also unceremoniously removed from the post of leader of AAP in the Lok Sabha.

The AAP, which was completely rejected elsewhere in the country in the April-May 2014 general elections, won four Lok Sabha seats from Punjab – Sangrur, Patiala, Faridkot and Fatehgarh Sahib.

The AAP started the year 2016 on an upswing. Poll surveys and the party’s own political calculations gave it anything from 75 to over 100 seats in the 117-member assembly.

The party, however, finished second and managed to end up as the main opposition party with 20 legislators. One legislator, lawyer-activist H.S. Phoolka, resigned from the assembly seat recently and even quit the AAP.

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With Khaira’s exit, his status as a legislator and the future of the six legislators who seem to be in his camp, will be seen in the coming months.

The party, which is the newest entrant on Punjab political scene – dominated largely by the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal and the Congress over the decades – is facing as much a challenge from its implosion.

Though the damage done by the party to itself in the last three years will be known after the forthcoming parliamentary elections, it will be a sad day for people in Punjab who saw AAP as a third viable option but were let down by the party itself. (IANS)