Punjab was on maximum alert as the authorities on Thursday launched an exercise to evacuate those residing in villages near the International Border in view of the escalating tension between India and Pakistan, with Chief Minister Prakash Singh Badal saying they will ensure "minimum inconvenience" to people.
"I have directed the officials that villagers should face minimum inconvenience in the process of evacuation," Badal said in Chandigarh after chairing an emergency meeting of his cabinet in the wake of Indian Army's surgical strikes on terror launch pads across the LoC.
He said all schools situated within a distance of 10km from the border have been closed till further orders.
"I have asked my MLAs to help people in the evacuation process from villages," he said.
He directed Chief Secretary Sarvesh Kaushal to immediately release Rs 1 crore each to all the deputy commissioners of six border districts as "preliminary expenditure".
Asking people "not to panic", Badal told reporters that "all preventive arrangements have been made in the boder areas."
He said leaves of officials have also been cancelled.
Earlier, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh spoke to Badal over telephone to request him to immediately start the process of evacuation of the people residing in the villages falling within 10km of the International Border in view of the escalating situation.
Badal directed the chief secretary and DGP Suresh Arora, who were present in the meeting, to ask the deputy commissioners (DCs) and senior superintendents of policep concerned to oversee the entire evacuation process in the border districts of Ferozepur, Fazilka, Amritsar, Taran Tarn, Gurdaspur and Pathankot.
The chief minister directed the DCs to identify suitable location for setting up camps and ensure that none of the residents being evacuated was put to any sort of inconvenience or hardships.
Badal asked cabinet ministers and MLAs to camp in these border districts in which their assembly constituencies fall, to keep close liaison with the district administration to ensure the safe movement of the residents of the villages within the close proximity of the International Border.
The emergency meeting of state cabinet this evening reviewed the entire situation in the wake of recent developments on the border and advisory issued by the Union Ministry of Home Affairs.