Stating that it was being penalised for fighting India’s battle against prolonged militancy, the Punjab government Monday sought the intervention of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to bail out the state from debt and other issues that were hampering its growth.
Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal met Modi here Monday and impressed upon him to grant a liberal financial package for bailing out the state from the financial stringency.
Pressing for the waiver of outstanding debt of Rs.1.02 lakh crore on account of militancy (between 1981-1992), the chief minister said: “Punjab fought the national battle for which it should not be penalised anymore.”
He said Punjab was a revenue surplus state till 1982, but due to the burden of this debt coupled with industrial concessions to the neighbouring states, led to further flight of capital and stopped any fresh investments.
“This accentuated our woes and pushed our state in the whirlpool of debt trap,” Badal said.
The ruling Shiromani Akali Dal has been running an alliance government with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the state since 2007.
Pleading for a special term loan waiver and refund of Rs.2,694 crore paid by Punjab for fighting militancy, the chief minister said the central government gave special term loan of Rs.5,800 crore for militancy-related expenditure and Punjab paid back Rs.2,694 crore.
He said Rs.5,029 crore was outstanding when the Centre announced a complete waiver of the loan, and added that Rs.2,694 crore already paid by Punjab also needed to be returned to the state as this was also part of the complete waiver.
Seeking a waiver in the central government’s loans in view of the state’s distressed financial position, Parkash Singh Badal said that the 13th Finance Commission had already placed Punjab, Kerala and West Bengal in the category of revenue deficit states and recommended to the Centre to find out ways and means to bail out these states from financial stress.
Making a strong case for special industrial package for the state, the chief minister urged Modi to grant industrial concession to Punjab at par with those granted to Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir.
He said the concessions to neighbouring hill states have led to flight of industry from Punjab and the state was not getting any new investment.
“Punjab is not against giving concessions to these states, but at the same time, such concessions must be granted to Punjab,” he said.