Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh has turned down the request of Punjab to restructure the sharing pattern of funds under Border Area Development Program (BADP) from existing 60:40 (Centre:State) to 90:10 (Centre:State). In a letter to Chief Minister Amarinder Singh dated January 1, Rajnath Singh pointed out that Punjab was among the states with “better fiscal resources”.
Rajnath was responding to a letter by Amarinder Singh on October 24, 2017, where he requested for restructuring of sharing pattern under BADP to 90:10 on the lines of North Eastern and Himalayan States. During a pre-budget 2018-19 meeting of Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley with state finance ministers on January 18, Punjab’s Finance Minister Manpreet Badal had raised the demand.
Reacting on Rajnath’s letter to CM, Badal told The Indian Express on Monday, “Rajnath Singh is not in-charge of the budget. I am asking union finance minister to give the budget. Once the budget is allocated, I think Rajnath Singh too will have no objection. We need to spend money in and around Punjab border with Pakistan for different perspective. It is for national security.”
“A large part of Indian Punjab’s boundary with Pakistan border is area where river is criss-crossing. Pakistan has secured the river boundary by erecting walls of stones. So, when the river water comes back to Indian side, it erodes Indian territory,” Badal said.
“If Pakistan, which had an economy one-tenth the size of India can afford to build infrastructure on border, why cannot we?” he said. “They (Centre government) are saying that do it with your (State’s) funds. I think this is absurd. It is live border, unlike other borders except for one or two. Whenever there is war with Pakistan, Punjab border has to open up. So when I raised the demand with Union Finance Minister, I sought budget not for any schools in border areas, but for national security,” said the finance minister.