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Sukhbir blames Union food ministry for delay in payment to wheat farmers

Says the ministry has not reconciled accounts with Punjab since 1997

punjab Updated: Apr 23, 2016 11:56 IST
Ravinder Vasudeva
Punjab deputy chief minister Sukhbir Badal distributing cashless health insurance cards to traders under the Bhagat Puran Singh Sehat Bima Yojana at Adampur on Tuesday.(Pardeep Pandit/HT)

Deputy chief minister Sukhbir Badal on Tuesday blamed the Union ministry of consumer affairs, food and public distribution for delay in payment to wheat farmers, saying it had not reconciled accounts with Punjab since 1997.

“There is no issue of missing food grains. It’s all about the mismatch in calculations. Since accounts have not been reconciled since 1997, there is a mismatch. There is no laxity on the part of the Punjab government in maintaining the cash-credit limit (CCL),” Sukhbir told the media after distributing cashless health insurance cards to traders under the Bhagat Puran Singh Sehat Bima Yojana at Adampur.

He also distributed health cards to traders in Ludhiana, Pathankot and Muktsar.

Read more: Punjab govt should have taken CCL issue with Centre earlier: Bhattal

He hoped that the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) would soon release the Rs 20,000 crore cash-credit limit to the state following chief minister Parkash Singh Badal’s meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi on Monday.

On the admission by state food and civil supplies minister Adaish Partap Singh Kairon that Rs 800 crore was diverted from the CCL account in 2010 to run the Atta-Dal scheme, the SAD chief said only Kairon can give a suitable reply. “No money has been diverted from the CCL account by the Punjab government,” Sukhbir claimed.

Replying to a query why the BJP-led Modi government at the Centre was taking a tough stance against Punjab on financial issues, he said: “Even the Congress-led governments at the Centre had stopped the CCL on the same issue and the CM had to meet then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on a few occasions.”

Speaking on reports of the drug abuse shown in the upcoming Bollywood movie “Udta Punjab”, Sukhbir said such movies would further defame Punjab. The movie says 70% of the population of Punjab is hooked to drugs. “We will see the film promos before making any strong statement. Till now, it’s only hearsay,” said Sukhbir on the possibility of banning the film in Punjab.

Admits to ‘shortcomings’

Cautioning the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) not to play with the sentiments of the people of Punjab on the Sutlej-Yamuna Link (SYL) canal issue, he urged the people not to fall into AAP convener and Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal’s trap as he has been proven to be the enemy of Punjabis.“Ek cheez deyan rakho... apne apne hunde ne... sade vich 100 kamiyan hongian, but assi thuade apne haan (we may have many shortcoming, but we are your own people),” he said.

‘Roads in Haryana are the worst’

Claiming that Punjab has seen unprecedented development in the nine-year regime of the SAD-BJP government, Sukhbir said the government had focussed on road in rural areas, besides upgrading grain markets.

“Go to Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat, you will see roads in rural areas are in a bad shape. What to talk about more, roads in rural Haryana are the worst. Go 10 kilometres off the main road in Haryana, and you won’t find any road,” said Sukhbir. On reported annoyance of Jalandhar Cantonment MLA Pargat Singh, Sukhbir said he had recently met him and “all is well with Pargat and the SAD”.