International marketing chains for state farmers, setting up of world-class industrial and tourism hubs, fast track courts for trying 1984 riots cases and a state institute-cum-hospital for advanced cancer diagnostic among others are among the key features of SAD election manifesto released here today. Besides, setting up of world-class industrial regions as global hubs of manufacturing, textiles and IT sectors and developing Punjab as a global medical tourism hub, with advanced institutes like AIIMS in the state are among the priorities of the Akali manifesto.
With special emphasis on industrial and IT growth, the manifesto assures the creation of three lakh avenues for employment for the Punjabi youth in new ventures, SAD President Sukhbir Singh Badal said while releasing the party manifesto. The 13 Lok Sabha seats in Punjab are going to polls on April 30. There is special emphasis on controlling prices especially of essential commodities. For this, stringent measures will be taken to check black marketers and hoarders who enjoyed political patronage from the Congress rulers and created artificial scarcities and price hikes in the country.
The party also promised effective measures to be taken to check corruption and the spectre of black money in the country. "Earnest efforts will be made to bring back black money lying in foreign banks," the manifesto said. The manifesto puts special emphasis on development of Border, Kandi and water-logged areas in the state, and on the modernisation and all round development of villages and towns in the state.
Sukhbir declared that the SAD will work in the new NDA government at the centre to ensure that farmers received MSP as per the Swaminathan Formula, which includes assured markets at MSP 50 per cent above cost of production for farmers produce. To fight the wheat-paddy rotation which is disastrous for soil fertility and for the falling water table, remunerative MSP assured markets to alternative crops will be the SAD goals. In a path-breaking initiative, the SAD promised that the new government at the Centre will be asked to treat agricultural allied fields like dairying, bee-keeping to as "agriculture" for the purpose of income tax exemptions, easy bank loans.
The party promised to launch international marketing chains for Punjab farmers to encourage value added exports and domestic trading of ethnic Punjabi food. "Mohali, Ludhiana and Amritsar will be developed as IT hubs while Amritsar will be developed as a global hub of international tourism. International flights from Mohali International Airport will be started soon, as will be domestic flights from Bathinda, Pathankot and Adampur," the manifesto said.
The Sawhnewal airport will be upgraded and provided a longer airstrip to accommodate bigger aircrafts. The manifesto advocates setting up new border trade check posts for trade with Pakistan and Central Asia through the Attari Wagha border, covering all items that are traded on the Mumbai-Karachi segment. It also promises to pursue the opening up of the Ferozepur and Fazilka check posts for trade.
The SAD will also work for getting a corridor access to Kartarpur Sahib in Pakistan for darshan deedar and seva sambhal of the historic Gurdwara Sahib by Sikh Sangat. The manifesto also promises the setting up of fast-track courts to try cases and ensure justice for the victims of the brutal 1984 massacre of innocents. "There will be four-dimensional approach to ensure speedy and total justice in these cases. These fast-track courts will try on-going cases, and cases that have been closed will be re-opened and challans will be presented. Complaints on which no action has been taken will be reactivated," the manifesto said.
Sukhbir declared that a commission of inquiry will be set up under a Supreme Court judge to "inquire into the entire political conspiracy behind the massacre and expose and punish the real conspirators. The scope of the Commission will also cover the entire sequence of events to bring to book those who shielded the guilty after the conspiracy of mass murders had been meticulously executed. No one will be spared." He said that the political goal of his party was the setting up of a genuinely federal structure in the country, in which the states received 50 per cent share from the central taxes and the formula of devolution of these funds were recast in favour of the states, so that the state governments had complete freedom to make and implement development plans according to the specific needs of the people their respective states.
"We believe in a much greater financial autonomy to the states than they have at present. We are glad that our partners in the new NDA government to be formed after the Lok Sabha elections also shared our views on this," Sukhbir claimed. The party also reiterated its stand that the river waters issue must be resolved as per the Riparian Principle. The party vowed to work for the restoration of the agreed 60:40 representation to Punjab and Haryana in the matter of appointment of officers in the UT till the transfer of Chandigarh to Punjab. The manifesto also speaks of providing hundred per cent health insurance schemes for the poor, big investments in healthcare sector, with special focus on the war on cancer, including the setting up of a world class institute-cum- hospital and more advanced cancer diagnostic and treatment centers in the state.
He declared that the SAD as partner in the new prospective government at the Center will put special emphasis on the development of rural infra structure and amenities in Punjab. He said 100 per cent houses in rural and urban areas will get potable clean drinking water and sewerage facilities. In the urban sector, the focus of the SAD as partners in the NDA government will be developing a state of the art modern and world class infrastructure in the state. "All cities in the state will be connected with four-lane and six-lane express ways, which will be access controlled wherever possible. State-of-the-art parks, city roads, street lights, computerised transport control systems in all cities," he said.
Addressing the problem of sand and gravel, the manifesto says that the party will work to ensure that the Centre undertook reappraisal of provisions of environment laws that have resulted in sand and gravel in several states. The party also favours that environmental laws should be framed in a manner that ensure speedy clearance of proposals, cutting off unnecessary delays.