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Will form STF to wipe out drugs from Punjab: Captain Amarinder Singh

8A day after registering a resounding victory in the Punjab assembly elections, state Congress president and chief minister-designate Captain Amarinder Singh on Sunday said his government would form a special task force to curb the drug menace in the state, while making the state more investor-friendly.
Reiterating his commitment to wipe out drugs from Punjab in four weeks after forming the government, Amarinder, who will take oath as the CM on March 16, said the task force would be formed in the first cabinet meeting which would work under the direct control of the CM office.
“The STF will launch a crackdown against drug smugglers and small-time suppliers. Psychiatrists would be appointed in drug rehabilitation centres to provide treatment to addicts as they are only consumers,” said Amarinder.
Replying to a media query, he said “Whosoever found involved in the drug trade would be punished. When asked if his government would arrest Akali leader Bikram Singh Majithia as his name figured in a drug scam, Amarinder said: “No guilty persons will be spared. But there will be no vendetta politics.”
Commenting on the rookie Aam Aadmi Party’s showing in Punjab polls, the Congress leader said: “AAP’s bubble has burst. There was no wave of the AAP in Punjab. The party’s hype was only on social media.” He also pointed out the absence of a regional figure in the AAP, adding that it was the reason behind its drubbing in the state polls. Calling for a bigger role for regional leaders in states, Amarinder said it was vital to project a regional face who could identify with the people.
He said Prime Minister Narendra Modi had assured him full cooperation for the development of the state. “I will be meeting the PM soon to discuss development projects for the state, he said.
Asked about farm loan waiver, a key pre-poll promise of the Punjab Congress, Amarinder said he was fully committed to implementing the same and would ensure that adequate funds are released for it.
The Congress leader said his government would create an investor-friendly environment in the state. “We will make state’s industrial policy more liberal. Top industrialists are in touch with me to set up their units in Punjab,” he said.
Reacting to the recent clashes between Sikh hardliners and Sirsa-based Dera Sacha Sauda, Amarinder said maintaining peace and harmony will be his government’s top priority, urging the warring groups to cool down tempers and work for the progress of the state.
On the Sutlej-Yamuna Link (SYL) Canal row, Amarinder said it was important to see the quantum of water available with Punjab. “When Punjab does not have enough water, the question of giving it to other states does not arise,” he said, adding Punjab has 60% of agrarian land with just eight MAF (million acre feet) water, while Haryana with 40% of agriculture land has 12 MAF water.
The very premise of the formation of Haryana in 1966 under the Punjab Reorganisation Act, with its lopsided distribution of water, needed to be challenged, said Amarinder, adding that his government would work on this.
To a question on Amritsar East MLA Navjot Singh Sidhu’s role in the new Congress dispensation, Amarinder said it was Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi’s call.

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