Badal meets PM, wants rail link to Damdama Sahib

Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal on Wednesday called upon Prime Minister Manmohan Singh seeking his personal intervention in setting up a rail link between Bathinda and Talwandi Sabo to facilitate pilgrims desiring to pay obeisance at Takht Damdama Sahib.

Badal, who met Singh at his residence here, informed him that the five "Takhts" were the holiest shrines for the Sikh community and millions of pilgrims from all over the world visited them every year to fulfil their life time wish.

He said among the various Takhts in Amritsar, Patna Sahib, Anandpur Sahib, Hazur Sahib and Talwandi Sabo, it was only Takht Damdama Sahib at Talwandi Sabo that was not connected by rail even as the distance between it and Bathinda was only 30 km.

Badal also asked the Prime Minister to constitute a Group of Ministers (GoM) for recommending the setting up of a Rs 5,000-crore Technology Mission for agriculture diversification for Green Revolution states on the lines of eastern states in the 12th Five Year Plan.

The chief minister also urged Singh to expedite the process of granting requisite approvals for setting up a cancer hospital at Mullanpur near Chandigarh, as land for it had already been handed over to the Department of Atomic Energy.

He said a detailed project report for this hospital to come up at a cost of Rs 450 crore was likely to be finalised within this week for the Union Cabinet's approval.

Taking up the issue of rehabilitation of co-operative sugar mills in Punjab, Badal sought a special package from Singh to revive them. The Prime Minister's intervention was also sought to expedite movement of foodgrains from the state to help liquidate existing foodgrain stocks before fresh arrival.

Badal also urged the PM to immediately roll back the excise duty levied on the bicycle industry.

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