Phagwara, January 16 (PTI): Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal today asked the Indian Medical Association (IMA) and State health department to form a joint coordination committee under his chairmanship to suggest ways to improve healthcare system across the state.

The panel would give suggestions to the state government for providing best healthcare and diagnostic facilities to the people at affordable rates, he said while addressing doctors during an inaugural function of two-days annual conference organised by IMA here.

Referring to Clinical Establishment Act, Badal said that any legislations related to agriculture, industry, medical and healthcare should ensure level playing field for all the stakeholders by taking them into confidence before enactment of such laws by the Centre.

Listing the facilities being extended by state government to give fillip to the medical education, the Chief Minister said, the stipend of medical interns have been enhanced from Rs 4,500 to Rs 9,000 per month while the honorarium of house surgeons have been increased Rs 4,800 to Rs 21,000 per month. Read Also: (Manpreet Badal joined party accused of big scams: AAP)

Showing concern over ill effects of Cancer and Hepatitis, Badal asked doctors to intensify their efforts in medical research to combat these fatal diseases.

He said, the state government has taken several steps to fight cancer which includes providing 118 drugs at affordable rates to patients suffering from this disease besides giving financial assistance of Rs 1.50 lakh to each person suffering from cancer from Chief Minister?s Cancer Relief Fund.

Till now Rs 335 crore financial assistance have been provided to 27,163 patients. Two advanced cancer treatment centres, Homi Bhabha Cancer Centre at Government Hospital Sangrur in collaboration with Tata Memorial Hospital and a 100-bedded Advanced Cancer Research Centre at Bathinda have been set up, he said.

Also, Homi Bhabha Cancer Hospital and Research Centre would soon come up at Mullanpur in New Chandigarh, Badal said.

Later, talking to media persons the Chief Minister said that AAP was a party of “fugitives” which had no future in Punjab.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has proved to be a biggest failure at all fronts and how could such party dare to befool the innocent electorate in Punjab, he said.

On the merger of People’s Party of Punjab led by Manpreet Badal in Congress, Badal said that he failed to understand how one person without anyone’s support could help Congress in improving its poll prospects in 2017.

“How a person could succeed in his life without any ideology, principle or stand,” he said referring to Manpreet.

Meanwhile, Punjab Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal who holds the Home portfolio, today gave a call to check narco-terrorism by introducing modern surveillance on the international border with Pakistan even as he announced that Punjab had the highest drug conviction rate in the country and was implementing an effective de-addiction drive.

In a statement here, the deputy chief minister said the porous and riverine tracts alongside the border with Pakistan and “lack of sufficient manpower” to man the international border effectively were hurting Punjab and the nation and effective steps should be taken immediately to seal the border and stop smuggling of drugs into the state.

Sukhbir said the party’s stand for complete sealing of the international border had been vindicated by the courts recently and the Border Security Force should be provided modern equipment to foil Pakistan’s plan to spread narco-terrorism in the country.

He alleged that a vicious campaign had also been launched by the Congress to malign the fair name of Punjab and brand its entire youth as drug addicts.

“This is being done even though it was the laxity during the ten years old Congress-led UPA rule that narco-terrorism had reared its ugly head in the country”, he claimed.

He said Punjab had launched a crusade against drugs and there should be no room for dirty politics on this issue as the mud-slinging would only strengthen the hands of anti-Punjab and anti-national forces to weaken Punjab.

He said last year, the state narcotics control bureau had confiscated 63 consignments in the border areas, besides some heavy seizures of drugs which included seizure of 12 kg heroin in district Tarn Taran, 18 kg heroin in Amritsar, 13 kg heroin in Ferozepur, 25 kg heroin in Fazilka and 74 kg heroin in Ferozepur.

He further said in 2014, a total of 14,482 cases were registered under Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act and 17,001 persons arrested whereas in 2015, total 10,162 cases were registered under NDPS Act and the number of persons put behind bars was 11,874.

Sukhbir said the Punjab Police was pulling out all stops to eradicate the menace of drugs and was keeping a constant vigil along the international borders to prevent the inflow of drugs into the state.

As part of this, the police was taking strict action against unscrupulous elements indulging in drug trade and had put 75,399 persons behind bars from 2007-2014. This even included the “arrest of five BSF officials”, he said.

In a comparison of action taken by Punjab vis-a-vis other states, Badal said, in 2012, a total of 10,220 FIRs were registered under NDPS Act in Punjab whereas this number was only 1,903 in Maharashtra and a mere 55 in Goa which is very infamous for its rave

In 2013, Punjab Police registered 14,654 FIRs under NDPS Act whereas this number was 2,714 in Maharashtra and 50 with respect of Goa.

In terms of conviction rate under the NDPS Act also, Punjab scored a point over other states with 73 per cent convictions in 2012 whereas this figure was only 32 per cent in respect of Maharashtra and 20 per cent in Goa.

In 2013, the conviction percentage under NDPS Act was 80 per cent for Punjab and 54 per cent with respect to Goa and 18 per cent in Gujarat, he said.

Sukhbir said the commitment of Punjab towards ridding the state of the menace of drugs was evident from the fact that 29 per cent of national heroin seizures and 41 per cent of national opium seizures were affected in the state in 2013.

He said the inflow of drugs including poppy husk, opium, ganja, smack and heroin into Punjab was either through the international border or from neighbouring states that produced the drugs legally.

“No drug is produced in Punjab. In fact, they are produced in Pakistan and Afghanistan and are transited through Punjab and the responsibility of stopping their smuggling lies with central agencies,” he claimed.

“This underlines the importance of having a second line of defence including
deployment of a commando unit to stop seepage of drugs into the country,” he said.