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Manmohan Singh's birthplace in Pakistan lacks basic amenities

Sunday February 13, 2011 10:50:58 AM, IANS

Islamabad: Villagers of Gah Begal in Pakistan's Punjab province, the birth place of Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, have been living sans electricity and other basic amenities.

Despite being declared as model village during the tenure of former president Pervez Musharraf, villagers complaint that all developmental programmes have been halted, the Dawn newspaper reported.

Millions of rupees have been allocated for the construction of schools, a vocational training centre and a veterinary hospital, but the school buildings remain half-built while the veterinary hospital and vocational centre still need staff to be recruited.

Thanks to an intitiative by Manmohan Singh, officials from The Energy Resource Institute of India (TERI) installed solar street lights, distributed solar lamps to each family, installed solar geysers, bio-gas plants and dry wood gasification system for mass cooking.

Indian engineers also set a geyser for the small mosque of the village with 228 households and a population of 2,000 people, the Pakistani daily said.

Yet Pakistani experts have not played any role in generating alternative energy. The smokeless wood gasification system has not been working but no Pakistani authority has so far shown any interest in fixing it, the paper said.

Ghulam Murtaz, a teacher in Gah Primary School, showed Singh's report cards of Class 2 and 3. The shcool has also preserved its admission register which shows Singh got admission in Class 1 and his serial number 187.

Murtaza's father was Singh's classmate in the school.

"Teaching at this school is a matter of dual pride for me because my father was a fellow of Singh here," Murtaza was quoted as saying by Dawn.

Raja Ashiq Hussain, the former Nazim (village head), still has a letter composed and signed in Urdu in which the Indian prime minister wrote about the developmental schemes for his birth place.

Hussain also visited India with a Pakistani delegation to experience the local government system of India.

The village also saw the riots which erupted after the partition of India and Pakistan in 1947. But before independence, Gah was a centre of economic activity due to the presence of Hindu and Sikh businessmen who made up around 50 percent of the total population.

Hussian describes the warm sentiments shared by the people of Pakistan and India during the tenure of the previous government, when many Indian delegates used to visit Gah weekly. The villagers still cling to the hope that Singh will one day come back to his childhood home. Or perhaps Pakistani authorities will wake up and revive the work once promised to these villagers.







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