Punjab CM urges PM for early SGPC polls

New Delhi: Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal today met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, seeking his intevention in facilitating early elections to Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee and saving Khalistan militant Davinder Pal Singh Bhullar from the gallows.

Badal urged the PM to take a lenient of view of Bhullar, whose mercy petition was rejected by the President Pratibha Patil recently, and asked him to have his death sentence converted into life imprisonment.

Bhullar, the mastermind of a car bomb attack on the then Youth Congress chief M S Bitta in New Delhi in September 1993, was convicted in 2001 and his mercy petition was pending with the President since January 2003.

Accompanied by his son and Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal, the Punjab CM also requested the Prime Minister to lay the foundation stone of the International Airport being set up at Sahibzada Ajit Singh Nagar (Mohali).

Lamenting that the elections to the SGPC - the supreme religious body of sikhs, was being delayed unnecessarily, Badals said all other elections across the country were being held according to their schedule.

The CM and deputy CM also complained of shortage of storage capacity for foodgrains in the state and recommended enhancing the facilities, saying the state required storage infrastructure of 49 lakh MT capacity for coming paddy season.

Later talking to the media, the CM said the Prime Minister had responded positively to the issues raised by them.

Earlier, Punjab CM also met Environment and Forests Minister Jairam Ramesh yesterday evening and sought early clearance of all pending projects under National River Conservation Directorate (NRCD) in the state. During the hour-long meeting, the Punjab CM apprised the Environment Minister about Detailed Project Reports (DPR) of Rs 237.16 crore for Jalandhar Satluj and Rs 104.75 crore for Rajpura, Patran, Khanuari, Lehragaga and Moonak (Ghaggar) project under the NRCD, that had already been submitted to the Government.

Badal also requested the Minister for expediting the process of according sanction to these projects. The state is already awaiting Central approval for projects worth Rs 401 crore under NRCD.

Badal also asked the Minister to release the 2nd instalment of Rs 78.50 crore against the sanctioned projects for 10 towns including Philaur, Nawanshahar, Banga, Phagwara, Hoshiarpur, Moga, Mukerian, Tanda, Dasuya and Bhulath under the NRCP.

Badal also sought amendments in the guidelines to allow use of funds of Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority (CAMPA) for agro-forestry/farm forestry as it would add to the forest cover in the state.