During his second meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi in three months, Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal on Monday demanded a financial package for bailing out the state from a fiscal crisis.
The CM, who was accompanied by deputy CM Sukhbir Singh Badal, demanded waiver of Rs 1.02 lakh crore debt on Punjab incurred on account of militancy, saying that the state had fought a national battle and it should not be penalised for that.
"Punjab was a revenue-surplus state till 1982, but the burden of this debt and industrial concessions to neighbouring states stopped investments," Badal told Modi.
Pleading for a special-term loan waiver and refund of Rs 2,694 crore spent by Punjab on fighting militancy, the chief minister said the central government had given a special-term loan of Rs 5,800 crore for militancy-related expenditure, of which Punjab had repaid Rs 2,694 crore. He said Rs 5,029 crore was outstanding when the Centre announced a complete waiver of the loan, adding that Rs 2,694 crore already paid by Punjab also needed to be returned to the state as this was part of the complete waiver too.
The CM said the 13th Finance Commission had already placed the states of Punjab, Kerala and West Bengal in the category of revenue-deficit states and recommended bailing them out from financial stress.
"Now, the Centre has referred this vital issue to the 14th Finance Commission. Till the 14th Finance Commission gives a report, Rs 5,000 crore should be given as a non-plan grant for the current financial year," added Badal.
He also demanded industrial concessions to Punjab on a par with Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir. "The Centre has extended concessions to the hill states till 2017, which has led to the flight of capital and existing industry from the state," rued Badal.
Drought relief for farmers
Badal sought a compensation of Rs 2,330 crore for Punjab's farmers in view of the deficient rainfall. The CM told Modi that farmers had spent an additional Rs 700 crore on deepening of tubewells, replacing of motors and diesel to run them.
'Review MHA blacklist'
Badal also took up the issues of reviewing names of Sikhs on the ministry of home affairs' (MHA) blacklist and the setting up a commission of inquiry to probe 1984 riots cases, besides asking the PM to raise the issue of hate crimes against Sikhs in the US during his forthcoming visit to that country.
Badal sought directions to the MHA to review the names of Sikhs on the blacklist. He asked Modi to remove names of those persons against whom no cases were pending.
He demanded Indian citizenship to Sikhs and Hindus who had migrated from Afghanistan. Badal sought the PM's intervention to issue instructions to the MEA for relaxation in visa norms to Punjabis who took asylum in foreign countries. Badal demanded the setting up a commission of inquiry, headed by a Supreme Court judge, for a thorough probe into riots cases.
Demands raised at previous meeting
During Badal's first meeting (on June 16) with Modi after the latter took over as PM, the CM had demanded the transfer of Chandigarh to Punjab along with other Punjabi-speaking areas, distribution of river waters as per the riparian principle, amendment in the Sikh Gurdwaras Act to make the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) an inter-state body, a commission of inquiry to probe the 1984 riots, and a direct corridor to Kartarpur Sahib (Pakistan).