Punjab chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh has sought “special category” status for Punjab to facilitate restoration of the 90:10 sharing pattern for the centrally sponsored schemes, to enable the state to expedite its development programmes. At a meeting here with NITI Aayog vice-chairman Dr Rajiv Kumar on Thursday, Amarinder reiterated the state’s demand for central assistance in key areas of the state’s development, including special package for border areas and river protection along the border, in the interest of national security. Describing the meeting as a preliminary one, an official spokesperson later said that the chief minister underlined the need for differential treatment for Punjab in view of its active border, with a hostile neighbour, and its dense population. Must read | Look beyond food security, focus on farmer income: Niti message to PunjabPointing out that the sharing pattern for Punjab had been changed to 50:50, the CM called for it to be restored to the original 90:10, which is now applicable only to special category states. The CM once again raised the issue of central support for farm loan waiver for the state farmers and financial assistance to check burning of crop residue, while seeking a special package for modernisation of irrigation infrastructure, in order to promote sustainable agriculture in the state. The need for central assistance in conservation and more efficient use of ground water, which is fast depleting, leading to critical shortage of water for irrigation purposes in the state, was also underlined. The issue of execution of the much-delayed PGI satellite centre project at Ferozepur was also raised by the CM during the meeting. The project is yet to take off even after four years, depriving the people of the region of some much-needed medical facilities, Amarinder told the Niti Aayog vice-chairman. Prominent amongst others who were present in the meeting included Niti Aayog member Professor Ramesh Chand, Punjab finance minister Manpreet Badal, media adviser to CM Raveen Thukral, chief principal secretary to CM Suresh Kumar, principal secretary to CM Tejveer Singh and principal secretary, finance, Anirudh Tiwari.