Thursday, May 23, 2024

What Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Could or Could Not do for Amritsar


Harjap Singh Aujla

Dr. Manmohan Singh is an honest man, who never believed in laying extravagant foundation stones with a lot of fanfare and taking publicity for personal aggrandizement. He believes in doing prudent things and does not hanker after rewards. He lived in Amritsar after being displaced from Pakistan and thus knows the nerve of the city. He realizes what is good for the city and has done what was the best for the holy place. Besides completing an expensive (200 crore +) airport modernization project at the central government’s expense, he installed the state of the art instrument landing system at the airport, which helps in landings of flights at Amritsar during extreme foggy conditions at New Delhi Airport. The length of the runway at Amritsar Airport is the longest for any airport in India and that is the best for safety.

Dr. Manmohan Singh built a modern road port complex at Attari/Wagha International check point at a cost exceeding 150 crores. This is the first such land port project in India, the second one is underway on the India-Bangladesh border. He has also sanctioned funds for the future expansion of the port complex at Attari at a cost of 300 crores of rupees. The rail-port at Attari is also being merged with the road-port. Soon there will be 24 hour uninterrupted trade with Pakistan from Attari/Wagha land port complex.

Dr. Manmohan Singh sanctioned a project costing 125 crores for the rehabilitation and renovation of the infrastructure at the once a very prestigious Government Medical College in Amritsar. The civil work is already underway. A modern trauma centre and cancer treatment centre is also being opened there.

Dr. Manmohan Singh sanctioned a nearly 3800 crore urban renewal scheme in Amritsar, which would have introduced sub-surface and above-surface light rail facility, bus service connections, canal based or river based potable water supply, modern sewerage system and widened and grade separated roads in the city. For all capital improvement projects in the cities exceeding one million population, half of the cost is borne by the state government or the city, which the Punjab Government could not contribute. If it had materialized, there was flexibility in scope to increase the footprint of the project.

Dr. Manmohan Singh sanctioned rupees 250 crore + construction of about twenty kilometers of the missing portion of the Ferozepore – Amritsar pre-1947 railway line, which originally passed through Kasur in Lahore district of Pakistan. The new railway line will link Ghariala station on the Patti side and Mallanwala on the Ferozepore side across the Sutlej. This railway line will eventually link Srinagar in Kashmir with Mumbai and Kandla port in Gujarat via Amritsar and Ferozepore. Amritsar will be the most important railway station on this line. It would cut the distance between Srinagar and Mumbai by 250 kilometers and will shorten the travel time by six hours. The congested Delhi corridor will be bypassed.

Dr. Manmohan Singh sanctioned the funds (20 crores) for the construction of a 300 meter high All India Radio and Doordarshan tower at Gharinda on the Amritsar – Lahore Grand Trunk Road. The work was completed recently. He has also sanctioned 10 crore rupees for installing high powered FM radio and TV transmitters at this site. This ambitious project serving entire Majha region and Ferozepore district can be inaugurated any time now. Dr. Manmohan singh sanctioned a world class university costing rupees 1000 crores plus 300 per year recurring cost for Amritsar, but the state government failed to give land.


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