Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal on Thursday demanded a level-playing field within the states as far as share of central taxes was concerned, besides demanding more devolution of central funds.
Addressing the National Development Council (NDC) meet in Delhi, Badal expressed concern that the Centre takes away 68% of the total taxes collected, thereby leaving the states with only 32%. In addition, he regretted that a state like Punjab got merely 1.39% of the states' overall share of 32%.
"The funds are given to the states in a tied manner through central schemes, which never serve the desired purposes of the state," he added. Pleading for "genuine federalism" that, he said, could be the only panacea for all such gaps. "Since Independence, the federal structure of the country has been gradually diluted."
'Boost trade with Pak'
At the 57th NDC meet held under the chairmanship of PM Manmohan Singh to discuss the draft of 12th Five Year Plan in Delhi, Badal demanded a revamp of the Centre's freight equalisation policy and tax concessions in the industrial sector and also to persuade Pakistan for granting India with the most favoured nation status for trade purposes.
To boost the trade through the Attari-Wagah integrated check post (ICP), he asked the Centre to permit all 6,000 trade items presently traded between Mumbai-Karachi seaports through the Attari ICP as well.
Badal claimed that Punjab achieved a high growth rate in terms of infrastructure development, capital-intensive industrialisation and high investment; but large sections of people in the state remained excluded from the growth story.
He expressed grave concern over the rural-urban divide and the increasing gap between the rich and the poor.
He reiterated Punjab's demand for a Rs 5,000-crore "technology mission package" for the diversification in agriculture in the original Green Revolution states on the lines of Rs 4,000-crore 'Bringing Green Revolution to Eastern India' (BGREI) being included in the 12th Five Year Plan.
He also highlighted Punjab's demand for the release of a relief package to the heavily indebted farmers in the wake of drought-like conditions during the kharif season.
In the power sector, the Punjab chief minister sought regular coal supply from Coal India Limited for the state's three upcoming thermal plants of 3,920-MW capacity. These plants were likely to be commissioned by May 2014, he added.