In a meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday, Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal and deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal demanded waiving the state’s outstanding debt of Rs 1.02 lakh crore. Badal said the 13th finance commission had already placed Punjab, Kerala and West Bengal in the category of revenue-deficit states and recommended to the Centre to find out ways and means to bail out them. “Now, the Centre has again referred the vital issue to the 14th finance commission,” Badal told Modi.
Praising Modi for bringing “cooperative federalism” on the front burner of the national agenda, Badal said the “federal structure of the country” was the need of the hour.
Badal also impressed upon the Prime Minister that till the time Chandigarh was transferred to Punjab, the mutually agreed formula of 60:40 share for Punjab and Haryana in the administrative set-up of Chandigarh be maintained. “The formula has been progressively and systematically diluted and the new UT cadre has been created through direct recruitment to fill posts in the UT administration,” Badal said.
RECRUITMENT IN ARMED FORCES
Raising the issue of recruitment formula for the army, Badal told Modi that a new formula, which made capability and merit as the sole criteria for selection, be implemented. The recruitment policy should be changed so that more and more youth from states like Punjab could join the armed forces, Badal said. He also demanded setting up of a defence manufacturing unit in Punjab.
Raising the demand for making Punjab a national food - processing hub, Badal demanded industrial concessions for Punjab on par with Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir.
The chief minister also demanded that the eastern freight corridor be extended from Ludhiana to Amritsar (Attari border). He also demanded the opening of trade through Hussainiwala and Fazilka borders, and that the number of items traded through the Attari-Wagah international border be increased to bring them on par with the number of items being traded between Karachi and Mumbai.
Seeking a special financial package for Amritsar, the chief minister underlined the need for developing the holy city on the lines of Varanasi. He also sought the establishment of a central university at Amritsar and setting up of an Indian Institute of Management and a defence university in the state.
Reiterating the firm commitment of the state government to eliminating cancer from the state, the chief minister sought a special package worth Rs 200 crore from the Centre to tackle the menace.
Demanding a special debt relief package for the farmers of the state who were already reeling under a debt of Rs 30,000 crore, the chief minister informed Modi that it was the need of the hour as due to the vicious circle of debt the rate of farmers’ suicides was increasing.
FOR AGRICULTURE DIVERSIFICATION
The chief minister also sought Modi’s intervention for approving the state’s agriculture diversification plan of Rs 7,921 crore, as it would help make agriculture a more remunerative profession.
DEMANDS COOPERATION TO ELIMINATE DRUGS
Badal also sought the Centre’s cooperation to eliminate the problem of drug addiction in Punjab.