Responding to union railway minister Pawan Kumar Bansal's statement, which said that the union government was ready to set up railway industries in Punjab if the state government facilitated land for the purpose, Badal said, "It will be a great news if at all the Centre sticks to it. We will follow it up with the railway ministry also. I will write to and meet Bansal in this regard," Badal said in a statement released here on Sunday.
The chief minister said he, his party and the Akali-BJP government in Punjab had been pressing for more central projects in the state for a long, long time, but all their pleas had gone unheard in the past. "Therefore, we are really happy about Bansal's statement and, if he can indeed get us something, I will be personally beholden to him."
Badal said the UPA government had sat on all their requests in the past, but if things changed in future, "we will be the happiest. I believe that with four Punjab ministers in the union cabinet, apart from the Prime Minister himself, Punjabis have a right to expect that the past would change and that the present government would give us an industrial bonanza. Unfortunately, our experience has been very disappointing so far. But I am willing to look beyond that."
The CM said there was an urgent need for also setting up agro-based industries in the state. "With the prospects of expansion in international trade with Pakistan and the rest of the world through the Attari-Wagah border land route, we would certainly need more and more units to diversify our economy. We want the Centre to give a push to agri-value addition so that Punjab farmers can break away from the paddy-wheat rotation and the state's economy could branch out into fresh business zones.