New Delhi: Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Wednesday called on Niti Aayog vice chairman Arvind Panagariya to discuss central support and collaboration in the holistic development of the state, with special measures to help out the beleaguered farming sector and special packages for debt waiver, industrialization and border area development.
The Niti Aayog agreed to visit Punjab for detailed discussions with the state government for the development of the region through crop diversification, industrial revival and other programmes, according to an official spokesperson.
While the Niti Aayog assured the chief minister that Punjab would not be impacted by industrial incentives to the states of Uttakahand, Jammu & Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh, Captain Amarinder suggested a special industrial package for Punjab along a 40 km belt in the sensitive border area.
There is a strong need, he said, to encourage micro, small and medium enterprises in Punjab State with similar incentives in the border belt and in the sub-mountainous area along the hilly tracts to promote employment and bring buoyancy in the tax revenue of the State. It was also necessary for balanced regional development, he stressed, also seeking a special one-time infrastructure development package for improving the border areas, with border roads to be taken up for special development and maintenance under the National Highway Programme of the country.
The Chief Minister further urged the central government to also promote a Petro Chemical hub adjoining the Bathinda Refinery for manufacturing value added products.
Even as he reiterated his request for financial support to mitigate the fiscal distress of the farmers reeling under huge debt burdens, the Chief Minister sought the support of the Aayog and the central government for encouraging Agro Food Parks, especially in horticulture, in the state.
The Chief Minister also sought from the Aayog price deficiency support for maize and other crops, as per Government of India MSP, in addition to wheat and paddy, to encourage farmers to opt for alternate cropping to increase their earnings. He urged the Aayog to provide the state with technical support in preparing a roadmap for doubling the income of the farmers.
The issues of drip irrigation, water conservation and management also came up for discussion at the meeting, at which Captain Amarinder once again reiterated his request for a one-time waiver and debt swap by the central government of the term loan taken by the cash-crunched state, which is reeling under immense financial difficulties as a result of the fiscal mismanagement of the previous government.
Besides soliciting the Aayog’s support in planning and implementing micro irrigation systems in agriculture to enhance the water productivity in the state, the Chief Minister also asked for support for outcome studies in education, health and water.
Captain Amarinder further emphasized the need for the central government to acquire lands that lie beyond the border fence and also liberally compensate lands which are damaged or rendered ineffective for farming due to periodic military deployment.
The Government of India should provide the same level of tax incentives and promotional schemes to this region as is given to the hilly and north-eastern region, and should also include Punjab as a category ‘A’ State for financial assistance on the pattern of Jammu & Kashmir and eight north-east states under the modernization of State Police forces scheme with Central funding on a 90:10 basis, the Chief Minister added.
Chief Minister accompanied by his Media Advisor Raveen Thukral, Principal Secretary Tejveer Singh besides Chief Secretary Karan Avtar Singh, Additional Chief Secretary Satish Chandra and Resident Commissioner, Punjab Bhawan, New Delhi Rahul Bhandari. Apart from these, Member Agriculture Dr. Ramesh Chand, CEO NITI Aayog Amitabh Kant and Additional Secretary Yadvendra Mathur.