Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal on Monday called upon the people to take a pledge to thwart the nefarious designs of anti-social elements in the state.

Addressing a gathering in Mohali near here after unfurling the national flag on Independence Day, he said that a few inimical forces were always envious of the peaceful and development-oriented congenial atmosphere in the state.

"Let us rededicate ourselves to work collectively to build a strong and prosperous Punjab besides cementing the bonds of love, peace and communal harmony."

Highlighting the immense contribution of Punjabis in the national freedom struggle, the Chief Minister said it was a matter of pride and honour that despite the fact that "we were just 2.5 per cent of country’s entire population", we made more than 80 per cent sacrifices in getting our motherland free from British imperialism".

"Our government has laid special emphasis on education and health. Due to our consistent efforts, we added 13 new universities and 30 more colleges to impart quality higher education to our youth."

Similarly, he said, new initiatives have been undertaken in the health sector, like providing free treatment to cancer patients, and recently it has been decided to provide free treatment to persons suffering from Hepatitis-C in government hospitals.

He said Punjab was the only state in the country which was power surplus and supplying uninterrupted power to the industry, agriculture and domestic sectors.

Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal, who presided over the Independence Day function in Amritsar, said the people of Punjab, especially the Sikhs, were always in the forefront of the freedom movement.

He said that the state is spending Rs.20,000 crore to modernise road infrastructure by making all the major roads four and six laned, besides providing sewerage, clean drinking water and LED street lights in 160 cities and towns.

He said 300 skill-training centres would be opened to impart professional skills to the youth.

He said Rs.2,500 crore have been spent for the all-round development of the holy city of Amritsar.