The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) today reminded Punjab minister Navjot Singh Sidhu that the tourism infrastructure of the state was "not for the government to make money", but for "creating wealth for the public" and establishing an atmosphere for investments. "This of course will be difficult for him (Sidhu) to understand," SAD MP Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa told reporters here, adding, "His myopic thinking revolves only around earning money." He alleged that Sidhu, the state tourism minister, was "used to earning money by the minute in the comedy circus show" and therefore, could not even think that "state money" could be used for public good. Dhindsa claimed that it was the idea of the previous SAD-BJP government in Punjab to develop Harike Pattan as a tourist spot. "We (SAD-BJP) had taken the initiative to develop a site adjacent to the wetland and make it a base for operating an amphibious bus, which would take the tourists to the wetland by traversing a stretch of jungle, interspersed with watchtowers, for bird-watching. The initiative catapulted Harike Pattan into the international tourism map as it is located only 13 kms from Amritsar," he said. The bus tour starts from Amritsar. The Akali leader said it was "strange" that Sidhu was "trying to deride" the project instead of running it and simultaneously announcing that he would visit Harike Pattan to monitor its development as a tourism destination. "Are you (Sidhu) really so daft or are you deliberately trying to befool the people? Wasn't the process to develop the area as a tourism centre already started under the SAD-BJP tenure? Why don't you admit this and then try to contribute something, instead of trying to earn money from tourism projects, despite the worldwide convention of building infrastructure at tourism sites to generate wealth for the local economy," he said. Dhindsa said the cricketer-turned-politician only had to look at how developing the Heritage Street, the interpretation centre and plaza adjoining the Darbar Sahib had propelled Amritsar as a leading tourism destination. "A few hundred crores of rupees were spent on this exercise and we are proud of it.
It was not a wastage of money as Sidhu would like to put it as. It is our contribution to the community as well as the holy city," he added. Asking Sidhu to "shut up and start working", the Akali MP said the people of the state expected him to deliver on the promises of his government and not "stale comedy". "You (Sidhu) are in the government now. Rise above your petty money-counting ways and implement the tourism policy laid out by the (previous) SAD-BJP government," he said.