Speaking at the Vidhan Sabha in Punjab on Thursday, Finance Minister, Manpreet Singh Badal, said that there will be no more free pilgrimage in the state now. Pointing towards the fact that the educational institutions in the state were struggling for funds, he said that the ‘Mukh Mantri Tirath Darshan Yatra Scheme’ stands scrapped now.
His statements came as a reply to a query by Firozepur MLA, Parminder Pinki, during the Question Hour. The Minister said that a sum of Rs 139.38 crore was spent on providing free travel to pilgrims during 2016-2017 under former CM Parkash Singh Badal’s pet project, even as Panjab University was seeking funds. Also, Baba Farid University of Medical Science and Health Care needed Rs 40 crore to overcome the financial crisis, he added.
Manpreet added that the previous SAD-BJP Government had preferred religious tourism to promoting education. The government had organised 484 bus trips to Chintpurni, 1,191 to Salasar (Rajasthan), 337 to Anandpur Sahib, 6,481 to the Golden Temple in Amritsar and 223 to Patna Sahib. Special train trips were also organised for Nanded Sahib (87), Varanasi (18) and Ajmer (3).
In the assembly, Rural Development and Panchayat Minister, Tript Rajinder Singh Bajwa, said his department would hold a Vigilance inquiry into encroachment of panchayat land in Mohali. Earlier, MLA, Balbir Sidhu, had hinted at SAD leaders helping out influential persons in procuring the land.
Akali MLA, Pawan Tinu, pointed to the incomplete sewage treatment plant (STP) in Adampur. To its response, Minister for Local Government, Navjot Singh Sidhu, said not one of the 64 STPs were functional.
“Not even 2 %of treated water is going to the fields. I assure the House that all STPs will be working within a year and a half,” he announced.
The Akali MLAs staged a walkout after raising slogans in the assembly. Health Minister, Brahm Mohindra, said: “The earlier SAD-
BJP government has left us with newly constructed buildings that are empty and state-of-the-art machines but none to operate these.”