Punjab for NRI friendly policy
Representatives of various organizations of Overseas Punjabis have been highlighting their problems.
Connecting youth to their roots, speedy adjudication of legal matters through special Lok Adalats and free travel to places of pilgrimage for senior members of Diaspora are some of the issues that the AAP government in Punjab wants to incorporate in its policy for Non Resident Indians (NRIs).
Various modalities of the proposed policy have been subject of discussions between the Minister for NRIs, Kuldeep Singh Dhaliwal, and the Department of NRIs besides the NRI Commission of the State.
Representatives of various organizations of Overseas Punjabis have been highlighting their problems. Promises made to them for speedy redressal; of their grievances notwithstanding, little or nothing concrete was done by the previous governments in the State.
In the absence of any laws that guarantee security to investments made in the State, not many overseas Punjabis have evinced any interest in setting up individual or joint ventures back home.
One of the major grievances of NRIs pertains to “abuse of certain laws” by vested interests in connivance with local authorities, especially police, to grab their landed properties. This is one reason for the rapidly growing number of overseas Punjabis on the “proclaimed offenders” list. The NRIs allege that after minor altercations, the vested interests, including close relatives and friends, proceedings to get them declared “proclaimed offenders” are initiated so as to prevent them from returning home to defend their cases and properties.
Equally important are the matrimonial disputes involving NRIs.
Their inability to be physically present at each and every court hearing is fully exploited by the vested interests. In the absence of any legal immunity, the NRIs find themselves at a great disadvantage in genuine cases filed by them to take control of their landed properties or to settle their matrimonial disputes.
Though the governments in the past used to hold Parvasi Bharati conferences in January every year where problems faced by NRIs were discussed. But such conferences have been discontinued for the past couple of years.
Even the NRI Sabha has been reduced to a showpiece with little or no legal sanctity.
The present day ruling party, AAP, owes, a part of its electoral success in the last Assembly elections to the support it got from overseas Punjabis. Now it wants to implement its promise of bringing out an effective and NRI friendly policy for quick resolution of their problems.
Punjab NRI Affairs Minister Kuldeep Singh Dhaliwal has reportedly been holding a high-level meetings with senior functionaries of the NRI Department and the NRI Commission to discuss the draft new NRI policy.
The Minister maintains that the Punjab Government has already launched a programme to connect NRI Punjabi youth with its roots. On the same lines, the Bhagwant Mann government would also draw up a programme for the elderly under which NRI Punjabi elderly would be provided free travel to religious and historical places of the state.
Efforts were also being made to establish NRI Lok Adalats to resolve their issues on the lines of Civil Lok Adalats. In these courts, land and marriage disputes would be settled on the spot by mutual consent by according them the legal recognition.
The State Government may, in the meanwhile, appoint a senior civil servant belonging to the Provincial Civil Service at each district headquarter for attending to day to day problems and complaints of the overseas Punjabis.
The AAP government was also contemplating to amend the laws dealing with transfer of immovable property, including land where obtaining the consent of the NRI would be made mandatory before any change in girdawari is allowed.
The Punjab Government may also start felicitating the “overseas Punjabis” of eminence in recognition of their contributions to various areas, including business, trade, industry, health care, art, literature, sports, and women and child affairs.