CHANDIGARH: Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh on Monday sought the intervention of Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the settlement of Rs.31,000 crore of Food Account on procurement of wheat and paddy, which was wrongly taken over by the erstwhile state government instead of being adjusted between state & central governments. He raised the issue with Modi during a meeting here.
The Rs.31,000 crore included Rs.12000 crore principal and Rs.19000 crore interest, said the Chief Minister, pointing out that the sum was on account of non-adjustment of accounts for procurement done by state agencies for FCI from 2003-2004 onwards.
He had been pursuing the matter since taking over as Chief Minister and it was now pending for decision with the Union Finance Ministry. He also pointed out that the State was already facing an annual interest payment liability of Rs. 324 crore and the total payoff might touch Rs. 65,000 crore, which was totally untenable for the state.
Amarinder also reiterated his demand for special package for the development of the border areas of Punjab, which he had been pushing for, because the state has an active International Border, with several thickly populated areas located close to it. “The criteria for allocation of funds for Border Areas Development are unfavourable for Punjab and I request Modi's support in correcting the anomaly,” he lamented.
Amarinder also made a strong request to Modi for central financial assistance for the celebrations of the 550th Anniversary of Prakash Utsav of Sri Guru Nanak Dev, beginning November 2019. “The memorandum has been sent by the state government to the PM for financial assistance of Rs.2145 crore and for dedicating some national projects in the memory of the First Guru,” he said.
Pointing out that 100 years of Jallianwala Bagh massacre would be observed on 13 April 2019 at Amritsar, and the Prime Minister chairs the Jallianwala Bagh Trust, Amarinder said he had sent a request seeking grant of Rs.100 crore for development of surrounding areas and related facilities in Amritsar. He urged the Prime Minister to direct the Ministry of Culture to extend the necessary assistance to the state for this purpose.
He also took up the issue of the problems being faced by the state's farmers and reiterated his request for a National Debt Waiver Scheme, besides making the Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojna 100% centrally funded. During the meeting, he also reiterated his demand procurement of alternate crops such as Maize, Pulses and Oilseeds by central agencies.
Seeking early clearance of Shahpur Kandi Project on Ravi, which was being taken up as a project of National Importance on 90:10 funding pattern, the Chief Minister said it would help utilise Ravi waters more effectively and improve the efficiency of Ranjit Sagar Dam. The Punjab Government has signed an agreement with Jammu & Kashmir but the revised estimate was pending with Government of India for approval, he informed the Prime Minister.
Seeking assistance for the river cleaning project on Satluj and Beas on lines of the Ganga Action Plan, Amarinder told Modi that Punjab was faced with an imminent water crisis with contamination of ground water and falling water table.