Holding its meeting outside the state’s capital city for the first time in the recent past, the Punjab Cabinet on Tuesday took slew of decisions related with the celebrations of 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev including holding a special Vidhan Sabha session in October, urging the Centre to convene a special Parliament session, besides taking the issue of visa-free entry to Kartarpur Sahib.
In addition, the Cabinet also resolved to check the groundwater depletion to uphold Guru Nanak’s philosophy.
As per the Cabinet decision, the Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh will take up the issue of visa-free entry through Kartarpur Corridor with the External Affairs Minister.
In another resolution, the Cabinet decided to strongly recommend to the Central Government to convene a Special Joint Session of the Parliament, to mark the historic occasion, which should be addressed by the President, with prominent Sikh personalities to be invited for participation.
“The Cabinet resolved to take up, with the External Affairs Minister, the matter of allowing visa-free entry to the devotees intending to visit Gurdwara Sri Kartarpur Sahib in Pakistan, without any entry fee, facilitation charges, service charges etc which would help them in ‘khula darshan’, enabling them to pay obeisance (Darshan-Didare) without any restriction in accordance with the prayer (ardaas) of Sikh Sangat,” said the spokesperson.
The spokesperson said that the Chief Minister promised to personally call on the External Affairs Minister, and urge him to prevail upon his counterpart in Pakistan to ensure visa-free entry to its territory for facilitating the millions of devotees to have Darshan-Didare seamlessly.
The Chief Minister also decided to convene the next Cabinet meeting at Sultanpur Lodhi on October 10 to review the further progress of the ongoing infrastructural and development projects in the historic city.
On a personal request from Cooperation Minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa, the Chief Minister agreed to convene a special meeting at Dera Baba Nanak before September 30 to review the status of various development projects being executed in the area.
The Cabinet’s special meeting, convened on Tuesday to review the progress of various ongoing projects in the historic city of Sultanpur Lodhi, also cleared a proposal for declaring Sultanpur Lodhi-Kapurthala-Kartarpur-Beas-Batala (including Batala byepass)-Dera Baba Nanak as ‘Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji Marg’. It was decided to upgrade the 136.14 km long road, and widen it to 10 meters at a cost of Rs 96.15 crore.
Conceding a request from Sultanpur Lodhi MLA Navtej Singh Cheema, the cabinet okayed a proposal to upgrade the local Civil Hospital to a super specialty institution, and also sanctioned Rs 1.24 crore for the construction of a kilometer-long stretch new road from Gurdwara Sant Ghat to connect with the Kapurthala-Sultanpur Lodhi Road.
The Chief Minister directed the executing agencies to complete all development works within the stipulated time frame and directed Kapurthala Deputy Commissioner to regularly hold meetings of all concerned officers to meet the deadline.
Capt Amarinder also asked the state Chief Secretary and Police Chief to take stock of the ongoing development and traffic management projects on regular basis.
The Chief Minister directed the PSPCL chairman and Water Supply and Sanitation secretary to find ways and means for exempting free langars from electricity and water charges. He also asked the Cultural Affairs Minister to set up a committee for honouring 550 Sikhs or Nanak Naam Leva personalities on the occasion.
SPECIAL VIDHAN SABHA SESSION NEXT MONTH
A special session of Punjab Vidhan Sabha would be convened next month, October, to commemorate the 550th prakash purb of Guru Nanak Dev. The Council of Ministers, in its resolution, decided to invite the President and various eminent Sikh personalities to address the planned special session of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha.
CABINET RESOLVES TO CHECK DEPLETING GROUNDWATER
Upholding Guru Nanak Dev’s basic tenets with respect to protection of natural resources, the Punjab Cabinet has resolved to take all necessary administrative and legal steps to effectively check the fast depleting groundwater table in the state. The Cabinet, in its resolution, underlined the need to take proactive measures for canalisation of the river Sutlej, Beas and Raavi to conserve the groundwater by ensuring its judicious utilization besides saving it from contamination. Pointing out that the groundwater level was depleting in about 85 percent of the state’s area, with an average yearly rate of fall of water level of about 50 cm, the Chief Minister Capt Amarinder expressed concern that 109 study blocks out of a total of 138 in the state were now under the over-exploited category, as per the Dynamic Ground Water Estimation Report -2017 report., and “the problem could be ignored only at Punjab’s own peril”.