The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) today unveiled its election manifesto for the 2017 assembly elections promising a slew of initiatives which will make agriculture a sustainable profession, revolutionise rural infrastructure, create 20 lakh jobs for youth, establish mega complexes for industry and provide succour to the poorest of the poor.
The vision document, which was released by SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal, follows the dictum - 'jo keha so kar vikhaya'. "We have delivered what we have promised earlier be it making the State power surplus, introducing unique welfare schemes like aata-daal and Shagun, to providing 100 per cent water and sewerage facilities in 165 towns across the State. "We are similarly committed to delivering on the promises made today".
Giving details, Badal announced the SAD- BJP alliance was committed to waiving off farm debts of all small farmers. He said the alliance government would also give a State fertiliser input incentive of Rs 100 per quintal on both wheat and paddy as an additional support to farmers over and above the minimum support price (MSP). All small farmers will also be eligible for a Rs two lakh interest free agriculture crop loan. Besides this the government will provide tubewell to all farmers irrespective of the land holding and free and regular ten hour day time power supply for farm operations. Badal said farm labourers will also be compensated in case of damage to crops due to natural calamities.
Stating that the next five years would be known as the period when rural infrastructure was revolutionised in the State, Badal said "we have provided clean drinking water and sewerage facilities in 165 towns. Now we will do the same in all 12,000 villages besides making cemented streets and putting up solar lights". He said besides this a one stop shop which will dispense aata daal, medical clinic and Sewa kendra will be opened in villages. All link roads will be made 18 feet wide.
The SAD president said the Akali-BJP alliance was also committed to skilling 10 lakh youth in 25,000 skill centres with one skill centre catering to five villages. Those doing the skill courses will be eligible for Rs 10 lakh interest free loan. The alliance government will also facilitate 50,000 youth to acquire taxis without down payment and soft loans. We will give government employment and also create jobs in tourism and industrial sectors to reach the 20 lakh job promise, he said.
Outlining his vision for the industry, Sukhbir said now was the time to think big. "We have laid down all needed infrastructure. All major towns and cities will be connected with four and six lane highways. We need mega industry centres. Accordingly we have planned to make the Malwa region a textile hub. An industrial park will be created over 2,500 acres in Rajpura. Trade fair centres will come up in Mohali, Ludhiana and Amritsar. Similarly world class IT hubs will be created in Mohali and Amritsar. A manufacturing hub will be created in Ludhiana by way of the Cycle Valley. A pharmaceutical hub will be created in Rajpura and medicity at Mullanpur.
Badal also assured that traders having a turnover of Rs two crore per annum would not have to maintain books and can do self certification and pay lump tax. Currently this facility is available for traders with a turnover of Rs one crore.
Badal said ameliorating the lot of the weaker sections was a cornerstone of SAD-BJP philosophy. "The welfare of weaker sections is closest to our hearts. We have accordingly decided that all kutcha houses will be made pucca and the houseless would be given jobs. He said in another important decision it was decided that economically backward among general category citizens will also be eligible for all social welfare schemes meant for SC/ BC categories. He said it had been decided to increase all welfare pensions from the present Rs 500 per month to Rs 2,000 per month. Shagun scheme will be raised from Rs 15,000 to Rs 51,000. A new initiative to give five kg sugar @ Rs ten per kg and two kg ghee @ Rs 25 per kg would also be implemented.
Free gas connections will also be given to all blue card holders even as medical treatment to blue card holders, small farmers, petty traders and construction workers would be raised to Rs one lakh per annum.
Highlighting the initiatives which would be taken for womenfolk, Badal said all matric pass women would be eligible to get sewing machines.
Stating that controlling crime and continuing the fight against drugs was a top priority for the akali- BJP alliance, Badal said CCTV cameras would be installed on all entry and exit points of villages and cities to check crime. He said a special border area force would be constituted to form a second line of defence and check infiltration. Badal said rehabilitation centres would be upgraded and new policy of incentivisation to encourage addicts to leave drugs would be initiated.
Badal said the SAD- BJP government had done a lot to improve infrastructure as well as beautify the precincts around the Darbar Sahab. He said in the next five years the entire walled city would be given a world class heritage look. He said other heritage and religious towns would also be taken up for a heritage makeover.
Sukhbir Badal also announced that the government would take steps to regularise all unauthorised colonies at a nominal price. He said there would not be any tax on CSD to benefit ex servicemen.
He said big infrastructure projects which would be taken up in the next five years would include super expressway linking Jalandhar and Ajmer Sharif and new express alignment between Amritsar and Delhi.
Badal also made it clear that presently Punjab did not have land or water for construction of the SYL canal. "We have returned the land on which the canal stood back to the farmers from whom it was acquired. The SYL canal cannot be constructed under any circumstances now. We are also committed to continue a peaceful democratic struggle to secure inclusion of Chandigarh and other Punjabi speaking areas in Haryana back into Punjab. We will also work devotedly to ensure the criminals who massacred innocent Sikhs are brought to book and the victims are fully rehabilitated. We also stand for a genuine federal structure, protection of minorities and peace and communal harmony".
The SAD president said above all we seek a vote on performance - both on development of Punjab as well as the people friendly policies, programmes and decisions of the SAD- BJP government.