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Chandigarh, July 18

Categorically rejecting reports to the contrary, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Saturday declared that not a single tree would be uprooted, nor would an inch of the forest land be taken by the government for the development of the industrial park at Mattewara, Ludhiana.


          There was no question of destroying the Mattewara forest, said the Chief Minister during his #AskCaptain Facebook Live session. Statements made by certain people suggesting that the forest would be destroyed “are simply not true,” said Captain Amarinder, adding that the government has taken 955 acres of land of Animal Husbandry, Horticulture Department and Gram Panchayat. The acquired land does not include an inch of the 2300 acres of the Mattewara Forest, he declared.


          Recalling that with public support, his government had last year planted 75 lakh saplings to commemorate the 550th Prakash Purab of Sri Guru Nanak Dev ji, the Chief Minister said he himself was very keen to make Punjab more green and clean.


          Captain Amarinder also allayed apprehensions that the waste from the industrial park would be discharged into Satluj river and said a modern Common Effluent Treatment Plant would be set up as per the latest Government of India norms. The objective behind the planned industrial park is to create a vibrant industrial estate where people of Ludhiana and nearby areas can get good jobs, he added.


          On the issue of Covid, the Chief Minister reiterated his appeal for all to take due precautions and strictly adhere to wearing of mask and other safety norms to check its further spread in the state. Mask can reduce the chance of infection by 75%, he pointed out, citing experts, adding that 10 lakh  reusable masks had already been sent to the DCs for distribution among the poor for daily wash and use. Responding to the concern of Amit Kumar of Rajpura, who said people in his city were not wearing masks in crowded markets etc and police were only checking at a particular spot, Captain Amarinder said strict action would be taken against violators.


          The Chief Minister further urged the people to contact hospitals on the first sign of any symptom or suspicion of Covid infection since delay reduces the chances of survival. He pointed out that Punjab had lost 239 lives to Covid from among the 9442 cases reported so far. The cases were continuing to rise, he said, expressing concern over the fact that around 300 cases had been added every day over the past one week.


          In response to a question, the Chief Minister said anyone coming into the state through any border would be checked strictly. Ravinder Bagga from Ludhiana had expressed concern over the labourers being brought and dropped by trucks at the Shambhu border, from where they were entering the state on foot.


          To a question from Amarjeet Singh from Anandpur Sahib, Captain Amarinder said Sunday curfew was not being enforced now due to many people needing to leave home for work.


          Terming the rates for Covid treatment fixed for private hospitals as too high, Sewak Singh, Ludhiana, said it was beyond the common man’s reach. The Chief Minister pointed out that the rates being charged by the private hospitals so far were exorbitant and that Rs 18000 per day was for critical patients only. The government hospitals had all the facilities, which they were providing at affordable costs, he added.


          Responding to a question by Sachin Dhand from Patiala on the possibility of strict lockdown in view of the increasing cases, the Chief Minister said urban cases were feeling the heat worse than others amid the growing pandemic and the only way to handle it was for people to be more responsible.


          The Chief Minister assured Karan Dhaliwal that “we will all see 2021 together” and urged him to be brave and not get disheartened.


          On the critical ground water situation, raised by Rajinder Singh of Patran, Captain Amarinder said an Israeli company had been appointed to look into it and find solutions. In addition, the state had established a water regulatory authority and had launched the `Paani Bachao, Paisa Kamao’ scheme for direct benefit of the farmers.


          Another farmer, Sukhdev Singh Sidhu, sought increase in the number of solar powered pump connections and requested inclusion of Kalanaur, Gurdaspur, to which the Chief Minister said all other areas, including his, would be included in the second phase of the scheme.


          Captain Amarinder assured Gurpreet Kaur of Mansa, who lost her father to a terrorist attack at the age of 10, that he will examine why she was left out of the job policy despite meeting eligibility criteria. Justice will be done, he assured her.


          To a question on false cases registered during the previous regime, Captain Amarinder said the Mehtab Singh Commission was looking into the cases and necessary action was being taken. He told Narinder Kumar Bhadoo, Fazilka, to send his case details if the same had not been resolved yet. Replying to another question, by Faridkot’s Gagandeep Singh, he said two SITs were investigating the Bargari case and he was hopeful that the probe would be completed soon. “We will get to the bottom of the matter and no guilty person will be spared,” he added.


          The Chief Minister said he would ask the DGP to inquire into the complaint of Mandeep Singh, Barana, of corruption by police at Khanouri border. He further said, in response to a request from Mohali’s Rupesh Jagoria that he will ask the DC to explore and implement e-challans for vehicles.


          He promised to look into the request of Rupinder Dhiman, Sangrur, to bring middle class families also into the cover of blue cards.


          The Chief Minister told Paramjit Kaur of Ludhiana that the government had decided to remove the passenger limit in buses as operations of private buses in particular had become unviable due to the steep hike in petroleum prices by the centre. He said buses could now operate on their full seating capacity but wearing of masks by passengers has to be strictly followed.


          In response to Kuldeep Singh’s concern about a viral video that showed students in a Gurdaspur school taking exams, Captain Amarinder said he will get the matter checked and strict action will be taken against any school violating the government orders.

Updated On: 07/18/2020 - 20:07