Punjab continues to bear the financial liability incurred during the period of terrorism even after more than 15 years.
Terrorism has left a deep hole in the state finances as it spent a huge amount of money fighting the enemy within the territory and also from across the border.
Of the total debt outstanding against Punjab today (Rs 64, 924 crore) nearly Rs 38,000 crore is the legacy of the days of terrorism.
Debt per person works out to Rs 25000. Punjab paid an annual interest of Rs 5,389 crore to the centre to service its debt.
Going by this trend the total debt on Punjab would be Rs 71, 086 crore by the next financial year and the state will have to dole out Rs 5,764 crore as an interest on it.
According to Punjab Finance Minister, Manpreet Singh Badal the increasing debt burden was coming in the way of launching new development projects.
“ The Constitution provides that in case of any internal and external threat the central government is bound to protect the state both physically and financially. But in our case, the centre has abdicated its Constitutional obligation by not waiving off the debt,” he said.
Punjab had to call in additional paramilitary forces from the centre to deal with terrorism. The centre had waived off expenses to the tune of Rs 6772 crore in two installments.
However the loan taken during 10 years of terrorism days (1983-1984 to 1993-1994) for formulating the annual plans today stood at Rs 38,000 crore. As the state was fighting militancy, the collection of revenue and taxes from the people was almost negligible.
Such a staggering debt on Punjab belies all previous claims by various chief ministers that Punjab’s outstanding debt of the period of terrorism has been waived off. Both Congress and Akali Dal took credit for the waiver.
While Akali Dal said the waiver was due to former Prime Minister Inder Kumar Gujaral, the Congress lauded the efforts made in this regard by late Prime Minister PV Narasimha Rao.
“ I have met chairman of the 13th Finance Commission, Vijay Kelkar, thrice and asked him to give us three options to get rid off the debt. First we demanded a complete waiver. Second was to waive off at least the debt accumulated during the 10 year time and the last was to write off the interest on the debt,” said the finance minister.