The Planning Commission on Monday approved a plan outlay of Rs 14,000 crore for Punjab for 2012-13, an increase of 22% compared to the previous fiscal. The state outlay was finalised by Commission's Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia and chief minister Prakash Singh Badal in a meeting here.
"We have approved a Plan size of Rs 14,000 crore for 2012-13, more or less that was wanted. I think it will represent a big step-up from the last year and we hope they will be able to fully utilise these funds," Ahluwalia told reporters here after the meeting.
Ahluwalia and Badal also discussed the issue of water management in the state as Punjab suffers from water-logging in some districts, particularly those bordering Rajasthan, besides falling water table elsewhere.
He pointed out towards the deterioration in quality of drinking water as many of the village ponds had been polluted.
"We have suggested some measures to the CM and he has accepted the same. We will send a high-level technical mission headed by commission member Mihir Shah to look at the nature of the problem...find out ways in which central government schemes and the resources under them can be used to address this problem," the Planning Commission deputy chairman added.
Ahluwalia also hinted that if needed the procedure and norms would be eased to deal with the water issue in the states.
The Commission has decided to set up a committee for dealing with water issues in the department of science and technology.
This will comprise of senior officials of the ministry of science and technology, CSIR, department of earth sciences, central ground water authority and state government officials.
The committee would be addition to the team to be deputed by the commission to suggest strategies and policy options based on proven scientific knowledge and technology applications.
The state was asked to rationalise the use of water resources and to take purposive steps in this direction, including the passage of legislation.
Meanwhile, Union planning minister Ashwani Kumar told reporters the commission has decided to support the establishment of integrated skill development centre in the border districts of
Punjab to create a pool of skilled work force to fuel industrial expansion and job creation.
The commission has also agreed to give in-principle support to create an industrial zone to support ancillary units around Bathinda refinery, under national industrial manufacturing zones initiative.
It was also felt at the meeting that a petro-chemical industrial complex around the Bathinda refinery could be developed to create a major source of employment in the state, Kumar said.
The minister said the commission would fully support the initiative to set up advanced cancer research and treatment facility at a suitable location in Malwa region in Punjab as it has recorded the highest cancer-related deaths.
Badal said that the annual Plan for current fiscal would focus on development of infrastructure in power, roads, rural water supply and sanitation, water supply, sewerage and sewage treatment plants in municipal areas.
He urged the Centre to waive off all agricultural loans as a one-time measure regardless of the size of land holding. The rural debt in Punjab is estimated at Rs 35,000 crore.
Badal also demanded that the minimum support price should account for the cost of production and should be linked to the consumer price index.