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Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Monday sought Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s intervention in the settlement of Rs 31,000 crore food account for procurement of wheat and paddy, which he said was wrongly taken over by the erstwhile state government instead of being adjusted between state and central governments. The Chief Minister raised the issue during his meeting with Modi at New Delhi, an official release said.
The Rs 31,000 crore included Rs 12000 crore principal and Rs 19000 crore interest, the Chief Minister said, pointing out that the sum was on account of non-adjustment of accounts for procurement done by state agencies for FCI from 2003-2004 onwards. Singh said he had been pursuing the matter since taking over as Chief Minister and it was now pending for decision with the Finance Ministry. He said the state was facing an high annual interest payment liability and the total interest payoff might touch Rs 65,000 crore, which was untenable for it.
The Chief Minister also reiterated his demand for a special package for development of the border areas of Punjab, which he had been pushing in view of the state having an active international border with several thickly populated areas located close to it. Amarinder lamented that the criteria for allocation of funds for Border Areas Development was unfavorable for Punjab and requested Modi’s support in correcting the “anomaly”, the release said. He also made a strong plea to the Prime Minister for central financial assistance for t celebrations of the 550th Anniversary of Prakash Utsav of Sri Guru Nanak Dev ji, beginning November 2019.
He pointed to the Memorandum already sent by the state government to the Prime Minister for financial assistance of Rs.2,145 crore and for dedicating some national projects in the memory of the First Guru, it said. The Chief Minister urged the Prime Minister to constitute an organising committee at national level for commemorating the event in a befitting manner. Pointing out that 100 years of Jallianwala Bagh massacre would be observed on April 13, 2019 at Amritsar, and the Prime Minister chairs the Jallianwala Bagh Trust, Amarinder said he had sent a request seeking grant of Rs 100 crore for development of surrounding areas and related facilities in that city.
Taking up the issue of problems of farmers, the Chief Minister reiterated his request for a National Debt Waiver Scheme, besides making the Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojna 100% centrally funded, it said. During the meeting, the Chief Minister also demanded procurement of alternate crops such as Maize, Pulses and Oilseeds by central agencies. Seeking early clearance of Shahpur Kandi Project on Ravi river which was being taken up as a project of National Importance on 90:10 funding pattern, the Chief Minister said it would help utilise waters of the river more effectively and improve the efficiency of Ranjit Sagar Dam.
The Punjab Government has signed an agreement with Jammu & Kashmir but the revised estimate was pending with Government of India for approval, he informed the Prime Minister, the release said.