Megha Mann, Tribune News Service
Phulokhari (Bathinda), April 28. Villagers whose land was acquired to set up Guru Gobind Singh Refinery are a dejected lot. They allege that the government has turned a blind eye towards their problems that arose after the acquisition of their land. A few villagers attended the inauguration ceremony. Most of them were seen busy harvesting wheat today. The Punjab government had acquired 2,000 acres in Phulokhari, Kanakwal, Ramsra and Raman villages in 1997 for the project.
Kanakwal village has the maximum share of land of around 1,200 acres. “The refinery should be named Guru Gobind Singh Refinery Kanakwal instead of Phulokhari. The then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had laid the foundation stone in Phulokhari that is why the refinery is named after that village,” said Beant Singh, sarpanch of Kanakwal.
The state government had promised employment to the people whose land was acquired. However, in none of the four villages, people have got jobs as per their caliber, claim villagers. “Most of our people were given menial jobs. Though we are not qualified, we can at least be trained and then hired,” said Onkar Singh, sarpanch of Ramsra village whose 406 acres of land was acquired for the project.
Angrej Singh, Phulokhari village sarpanch’s husband, said none of the villagers had got employment. “Most of us work as daily labourers and do not have any fixed source of income,” added Angrej, whose around 200 acres of land was acquired. Villagers said in some cases, the refinery had added to their problems. “The main gate of Kanakwal village has been closed due to security reasons. Now, we have to travel 6 to 8 km extra to reach the village,” added Beant.