In a major jolt to Punjab, the central government has slashed annual funds to promote much-hyped crop diversification program (CDP) by more than Rs 100 crore for this fiscal year.
Adding to its woes, the Centre, in its June 19th letter, has also asked the state to share half of the CDP cost. Already, the Centre has dubbed Punjab as a 'prosperous' state and is not too keen on granting it a special package.
Sources said last year the central government had asked the state to submit a`250-crore proposal on CDP, a sub-scheme of Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana. This year, the state was told to submit a plan of `150 crore.
"As enhanced allocations are available with states on account of implementation of recommendations of 14th finance commission, the central allocation for CDP has been reduced, " read the letter.
"Therefore, it is provisionally proposed that the CDP would be implemented with 50:50 sharing pattern between the Centre and the state with effect from 2015-16 in order to ensure that the investment in agriculture does not go down," it says.
Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal had demanded Rs 5,000 crore package for CDP implementation in Punjab to get rid of the paddy-wheat cycle.
As per the letter, the Punjab government's proposal of `60 crore for demonstration of alternate crops has been accepted in full by the Centre. However, state government's `42 crore proposal to invest on farm mechanisation and value addition was decreased to Rs 20 cr. by the Centre. The reduction is significant as mechanical support is crucial in CDP. The state government had proposed to spend `45 crore on site specific activities. The amount has been slashed by `30 crore.
Therefore, the Centre has okayed `113 crore expenditure out of the`150 crore proposal submitted by the Punjab government, And that too, the Centre and the state have to share it equally.
Last year, we had submitted a proposal of 1250 crore to the Centre, but we got just `155 crore. Let's see what do we get in hand this time," said Punjab joint director agriculture Gurdial Singh.
Punjab agriculture minister Tota Singh claimed that there has been no reduction in central funds. However, when asked to explain, he said, "We will be able to comment only after September 30."