New Delhi: Punjab 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.
He also sought early setting up of the Cancer Hospital at Mullanpur near Chandigarh and asked the Prime Minister to set up a Group of Ministers (GoM) for recommending the setting up of the Rs 5000-crore Technology Mission for agriculture diversification for Green Revolution states on the lines of Eastern states in the 12th Five Year Plan.
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 fulfill their life time wish.
He said among the various Takhts at Amritsar, Patna Sahib, Anandpur Sahib, Hazur Sahib and Talwandi Sabo, it was only Takht Damdama Sahib at Talwandi Sabo which was not connected by rail even as the distance between it and Bathinda was only 30 kilometres.
The Punjab Chief Minister also urged Singh to expedite the process of granting requisite approvals for setting up 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 finalized within this week for the Union Cabinet's approval.
The Centre's cooperation was also sought in encouraging farmers to adopt crop diversification which would go a long way in supplementing the income of the beleaguered peasantry of the state who were already on the crossroads due to negligible returns on their produce due to ever accelerating farm inputs.
The Prime Minister was requested to establish a sub-centre of Directorate of Soya Research (DSR), Indore, in Punjab for promoting soya initiative. A demand was also made that Cotton Corporation of India (CCI) be asked to carry out MSP operations in Cotton markets.
Badal also urged the Prime Minister to immediately roll back the excise duty levied on the bi-cycle industry besides withdrawing the hike of FOB price from existing 12.3% to 15%, as it was the oldest industry of the state which gave employment to 1.5 lakh people.


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