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Chandigarh, August 18
Opposing the central government’s decision to extend special incentives to the hill states, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Friday said he would pursue Punjab’s demand for extending similar incentives to the border areas and Kandi belt.
Talking to mediapersons at the Punjab Kala Bhawan after inaugurating a Photo Journalists Welfare Association exhibition, the Chief Minister said Punjab’s Kandi and the border areas also had special problems and deserved to be put at par with the hill states in terms of the incentives given by the central government. His government, said Captain Amarinder, had even earlier raised the issue with the Centre and would pursue the case even more aggressively now that the decision on the hill states had been taken.
In response to a question on the upcoming verdict on Dera Sacha Sauda sect chief Ram Rahim, the Chief Minister made it clear that nobody would be allowed to disturb the state’s law and order. He said he had directed the police department to remain alert against any attempt to disrupt peace in Punjab. Peace has to be maintained at all costs in order to ensure the state’s progress, he added.
To a question on the T Haq Committee findings and recommendations on the crop loan waiver issue, the Chief Minister said he had received the report and would study the same and take appropriate decisions in the interest of the farmers. The additional loan liability his government would need to incur in order to repay the loans of the farmers was a necessity for helping the beleaguered farming community, said the Chief Minister, in response to another question.
Responding to a question, Captain Amarinder clarified that no second committee had been formed to examine Justice Narang’s report on the sand mining auctions and the allegations against Power & Irrigation Minister Rana Gurjit. “I’ve marked the report to the Chief Secretary, who may have involved other officials for studying its findings”, he said.
On the speculation of the expelled AAP leader Sucha Singh Chhotepur joining the Congress, the Chief Minister said while Chhotepur was a good friend they had not met for the past two months.
On the occasion, the Chief Minister also condoled veteran photographer S Paul, who passed away in New Delhi on Wednesday. A two-minute silence was observed in memory of the award-winning photo journalist.
Captain Amarinder also announced a Running Trophy for the Best Photographer of the Year, to be presented in December every year.
The Chief Minister enjoyed looking at some of the pictures at the exhibition, organised on the eve of World Photography Day. He recalled seeing some of them in newspapers over the year. He particularly seemed to relish photographs of politicians caught off guard, including one of actor-turned-MP Kiron Kher on a swing.
The Chief Minister also honoured various photo journalists for their exemplary work, saying despite working in tough situations they had succeeded in carving out of what was evidently a monotonous and difficult job.
Veteran photo journalist Santokh Singh presented a memento to the Chief Minister at the event.
The 3-day exhibition has 109 photographs of 59 photographers on display. In addition, the exhibition has photographs clicked by Punjab Governor VPS Badnore and Captain Amarinder. Referring to his photographs, the Chief Minister said he had clicked them in South Africa a long time ago.
The inaugural event was attended, among others, by former Union Minister Balwant Singh Ramoowalia, Media Advisor to CM Raveen Thukral, Advisor, BIS Chahal, and Mohali MLA Balbir Sidhu and Punjab Arts Council Chairperson Satinder Satti.