Chandigarh, January 4 : The Punjab Chief Minister Mr Parkash Singh Badal today announced the formation of a high level committee on NRI affairs comprising five senior Cabinet Ministers and equal number of Punjabi NRIs settled across the globe as representatives to put in place a mechanism for speedy implementation of the decisions taken at different forums relating to their overall welfare and safeguard their interests.
Addressing the Punjabi Diaspora here after inaugurating two day “Pravasi Punjabi Sammellan-2013”, the Chief Minister assured that the recommendations of the committee would be implemented in a time bound manner. He reiterated that the SAD-BJP government was committed to ensure the security of hard earned property of the NRIs so that they could live and work peacefully in the countries of their adoption. Mr Badal said that the state government has come out with landmark legislation by enacting Compulsory Registration of Marriages Act to check the menace of fraudulent and fake marriages and Human Trafficking/ Smuggling Act to prevent the illegal practice of immigrating innocent youth to abroad by the unscrupulous travel agents by showing them green pastures but ultimately duping and dumping them in limbo of oblivion. Apart from this, the state government has also amended the Punjab Urban Rent Control Act to safeguard the property and ownership rights of the NRIs.
On this historic occasion, the Chief Minister also announced that in future the NRIs would be get their multiple properties evicted for multiple times as now the existing provisions of law under the act was only restricted to a single property for once. Announcing a slew of other NRI friendly measures, Mr Badal said that the authority of attestation of the Power of Attorney in case of property situated in a particular district would now be vested in the concerned Deputy Commissioner. Likewise in case of different properties located in different districts within the division would be now attested by the Divisional Commissioner. Similarly Financial Commissioner Revenue had been authorised for granting Power of Attorney for inter division cases.
The Chief Minister also announced to set up three more NRI Police stations for quick disposal of complaints related to NRI matters, with this the total number of NRI Police stations across the state had gone upto 11. Mr Badal also announced to set up a fast track court for NRI affairs in the state to ensure quick dispensation of justice to the NRIs, for which he has already given formal clearance. He said that the state government had already established a NRI Commission headed by a retired Judge of Punjab and Haryana High Court. Assuring the NRIs that his government was fully sensitised on the issue of Proclaimed offenders, Mr Badal said that he had already asked the Deputy Chief Minister Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal, who holds the Home Portfolio also, to get these cases settled at the earliest to enable the innocent NRIs who were facing these charges could be absolved of them and visit their motherland, where their roots lie.
Exhorting the NRIs to play a proactive role in the overall development and growth of the state, the Chief Minister said that the Punjab was being looked as the most preferred investment destination due to congenial and investor friendly atmosphere besides being the most peaceful state in the country with absolute communal harmony, perfect brotherhood and amity. He wooed the prospective NRI investors and entrepreneurs to make huge investments in the state especially in industry and agro processing sector. Mr Badal assured them of all possible support and co-operation to set up their ventures and business establishments here. The Chief Minister also envisaged their views on how the state government could immensely help the NRIs to utilise their potential optimally.
The Chief Minister called upon the NRIs to share their varied experiences as they were living in much advanced nations by setting up their ventures in the state from which Punjab could be enormously benefitted and it could certainly boost the growth rate. On the occasion Mr Badal also released multipurpose Non Resident Punjabi Privilege Card which enables the NRIs to seek admissions for their wards in schools besides getting concessions on shopping in malls, for boarding and lodging in Hotels and Restaurants and for availing medical care facilities in selected renowned hospitals.
Recalling the distinguished services of the Punjabi NRIs across the world, the Chief Minister said the great sons of soil like Noble Prize Winner Mr Hargobind Khurana and Attorney General of New York State Mr Preet Bhrara had made every Punjabi proud and honoured for their outstanding contribution in their respective fields. Likewise Mr Badal also eulogised the enormous contribution of NRI Punjabi freedom fighters that spearheaded Ghadar movement from abroad to free our motherland from the yoke of British imperialism. Earlier, at the very outset of his address, the Chief Minister urged the NRIs converged on the occasion to observe two minutes silence as a mark of respect in the memory of Ghadar Heroes as a part of centenary celebrations of this watershed movement in the history of Indian National Freedom struggle.
Unfolding the vision of Punjab to showcase it as the landmark and the most favoured destination for investment by the NRIs, the Punjab Deputy Chief Minister Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal made a 55 minutes Power point presentation to gave a bird’s eye view of overall development scenario and futuristic growth in the state. Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal urged the NRIs not to be swayed by the false propaganda unleashed by their detractors and political opponents who were either resorting to mudslinging or spreading canards to distract the attention of the prospective investors besides misleading the innocent NRIs. Urging them to be beware of these anti Punjab elements the Deputy Chief Minister said that never believe the perceptions because perceptions vary from mouth to mouth but only trust the reality or the factual position for which he had today endeavoured to make a humble effort to clear the misconceptions from their minds regarding the ill conceived and politically motivated false propaganda to defame the SAD-BJP government for the reasons best known to our political opponents. He said the sole agenda of our government was to ensure all round development and prosperity of the people and sought the NRIs unstinted support and co-operation in their mission to multiply their efforts to make Punjab as front runner state not only in the country but across the globe. The Deputy Chief Minister also asked the NRIs not to rely the misrepresented and factually incorrect financial position of the state in relevance to heavy debt being projected by their detractors. He said that productive debt was a natural phenomenon for the growth, which had been accepted worldwide even by the developed nations like USA and Japan.
Divulging the futuristic vision about Punjab’s development, he said the Punjab would be a power surplus state by December 2013 due to the concerted efforts of the state government as Power was the engine of growth in any economy. Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal pointed out Punjab which was till date known as the major producer of food grains would soon be selling Power to the needy states in the country besides exporting it to Pakistan. The Deputy Chief Minister was confident that Punjab would soon achieve double digit growth rate.
Listing the four/six laned express highways projects of the state, the Deputy Chief Minister said that these projects including Shambu-Jalandhar, Jalandhar-Pathankot, Jalandhar-Amritsar, Amritsar-Ganganagar, Ludhiana-Moga-Ferozepur, Hoshiarpur-Jind, Zirakpur-Patiala, Bathinda-Patiala were the upcoming road projects in PPP Mode to be completed within next few years at a whopping investment of Rs 76000 crore. He also said Punjab was the first state to introduce master plans for all 147 towns and cities to ensure planned and integrated growth thereby checking the malpractice of cutting illegal colonies which led to haphazard growth. Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal said that the main focus of the urban development was to ensure 24×7 power supply, 100% drinking water facility and sewerage water treatment etc.
To ensure better public transport facilities to the people the Punjab would soon have the first metro Rail service in Ludhiana, the industrial hub of state, the work for which would start soon. He said Mono Rail (POD) system would be started in Amritsar to facilitate the devotees who visit the holy city to offer prayers at Sri Harmandir Sahib. Nearly Rs 200 crore was being spent by the state government on the beautification and construction of entrance plaza at Sri Harmandir Sahib. The Deputy Chief Minister also pointed out that stupendous efforts have been made to sanction 305 Mega industrial projects with an investment of Rs 113503.46 crore. To wean away the youth from the menace of drug addiction the state government had made remarkable contribution in promotion of sports by strengthening and updating the existing sports infra structure besides creating new one. He said efforts were afoot to promote Hockey in a big way after Kabaddi as a household game even at the international arena. The Deputy Chief Minister said seven out 16 Astro Turf were alone in Punjab which was a testimony that the state government was committed to regain its lost glory in Hockey at the national as well as international level.
Welcoming the NRIs for attending this gala event, Information and Public Relations Minister Mr Bikram Singh Majithia said that it was a historic occasion as for the first time an interactive session was being held between the state government and the NRIs to elicit their whole hearted support and co-operation for the policies of state government. The Minister envisioned the two day NRI meet as a turnaround to emerge Punjab as a force to be reckoned with worldwide. He said that it was a matter of great pride and honour for the state the NRI media has for the first time come to cover this event and lauded them for projecting the state in foreign media in true perspective. Mr Majithia apprised the Chief Minister that the NRI Media had conveyed their gratitude to the Punjab government for giving rousing welcome and respect to them in Punjab. On the occasion he announced that the NRI Media would be entitled for all the facilities like recognition, accreditation and other facilities like release of advertisements at par with their counterparts in Punjab.
Prominent amongst other present on the occasion included Cabinet Ministers, Chief Parliamentary Secretaries, MLAs, top brass of state civil and Police administration besides several dignitaries and eminent personalities from different walks of life.