Chandigarh, June 17 – The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) today told Tourism minister Navjot Sidhu that tourism infrastructure was not built to earn money by the State but to create wealth for the public and establish an atmosphere for investment in the area.
“This of course will be difficult for you to understand”, SAD mp Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa said to Sidhu adding “your myopic thinking revolves around earning money only. You are used to earning money by the minute in your comedy circus show and therefore cannot think that even State money can be used for public good”.
Stating that Sidhu’s vision for Punjab and its rich history and culture could be seen from his statement calling the iconic Virasat e Khalsa a ‘white elephant’, he said Sidhu seemed to have used the same logic to deride the amphibious bus project launched by the SAD-BJP government at Harike Pattan wetlands in 2016.
Mr Dhindsa said it was to the credit of the SAD-BJP government that it decided to develop Harike Pattan as a tourism centre. “The government took the initiative to develop a site of land alongside the wetland and make it a base for operating an amphibious bus which takes tourists right down to the wetland by traversing a few kilometer stretch of jungle interspersed with watchtowers for bird viewing. This facility has brought Harike Pattan into the international tourism circuit as it is only 13 km from Amritsar”. The amphibious bus tour starts from Amritsar.
The Akali leader said it was strange that Sidhu was trying to deride the bus project instead of running it and simultaneously announcing that he would visit Harike Pattan to explore its development as a tourism destination. “Are you really so daft or are you deliberately trying to befool the people. Wasn’t the process to develop the area as a tourism centre already started under SAD-BJP tenure? Why don’t you admit this fact and then try to contribute something instead of trying to earn money from tourism projects despite the world wide convention of building infrastructure at tourism sites to generate wealth for the local economy”.
The Akali leader said Sidhu only had to look at how developing the heritage street, interpretation centre and plaza adjoining the Darbar Sahib had propelled Amritsar as a leading world tourism destination. “A few hundred crores were spent on this exercise and we are proud of spending this money. It was not wastage as Sidhu would like to put it as. It is our contribution to the community as well as the holy city”, he added.
Asking Sidhu to shut up and start working, the senior leader said Punjabis expected Sidhu to deliver on the promises made by his government and not stale comedy as he is wont to do. “You are in government now. Rise above your petty money counting ways and implement the tourism policy laid out by the SAD-BJP government. It is this policy which has resulted in the amphibious bus project besides various others new iconic features including the Partition museum, restoration of the Gobindgarh fort and construction of various memorials including the War Memorial and Ram Teerath at Amritsar, Jang e Azadi at Kartarpur, Banda Bahadur memorial at Mohali and much more”.