Punjab demands 2,500-cr special industrial package for border districts
During the pre-Budget meeting at Manekshaw Centre in Delhi, Cheema said Punjab, being a border state with a high stake in national security, needed to be considered as “special cases”, along with other such areas in India, to attract investors and industries
Punjab Finance Minister Harpal Cheema Friday sought a special industrial package of Rs 2,500 crore for the development of the state’s border districts, besides the resolution of the Cash Credit Limit issue in line with recommendations of the 15th Finance Commission sub-committee.
Submitting a comprehensive memorandum of demands for the 2023-24 Union Budget in a meeting with Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, Cheema also sought Rs 1,125 crore in budgetary support for assistance to farmers quitting stubble burning, Rs 1,000 crore special assistance for modernisation of the police force and policing infrastructure in sensitive border districts, Vande Bharat trains from Amritsar and Bathinda to New Delhi, and a railway link between Rajpura and Chandigarh.
During the pre-Budget meeting at Manekshaw Centre in Delhi, Cheema said Punjab, being a border state with a high stake in national security, needed to be considered as “special cases”, along with other such areas in India, to attract investors and industries.
“A special package of Rs 2,500 crore be provided to the state of Punjab for the development of the industrial sector in the border districts of Pathankot, Gurdaspur, Amritsar, Tarn Taran, Firozpur, and Fazilka,” he said.
Cheema said the budgetary support would help the state government set up infrastructure for industrial hubs and parks, specifically focusing on the One District One Product, and supplement the promotion of exports. It would also help provide special incentives or subsidies to investors for establishing their units in these districts.
Raising the demand to increase the Cash Credit Limit, Cheema said the sub-committee notified by the 15th Finance Commission under the chairmanship of Dr Ramesh Chand had clearly in its report verified claims of the Punjab government amounting to Rs 6,155 crore. He demanded early resolution of the issue, in line with the rightful claims of Punjab as stated in the report, by providing relief of Rs 6,155 crore from “this unsustainable debt burden”.
Demanding budgetary support of Rs 1,125 crore for assistance to farmers quitting stubble burning, the Punjab finance minister said the state government had already requested the Centre to support and collaborate by providing Rs 1,500 per acre as compensation in lieu of the additional cost to be incurred on the management of paddy stubble. He requested the Union Finance minister to consider the proposal on a priority in the interest of the welfare of farmers and the citizens of the NCR and demanded a support of Rs 1,125 crore in the Union Budget.
Seeking a Rs 1,000-crore special assistance for modernisation of the police force and policing infrastructure in the sensitive border districts, saying Punjab needed to be equipped with the latest equipment and an adequate and well-trained police force to deal with the constant threats as it shared a 550-km-long border with a “hostile neighbour”.
Cheema also sought Rs 160 crore in budgetary support to deploy two battalions of police permanently in the border districts that, he said, would also ease the pressure on the Border Security Force.
He said this second line of defence would enable Punjab Police in destroying “nefarious designs of anti-national elements” and safeguard from threats emanating from narco-terrorism.
Demanding Vande Bharat trains from Amritsar to New Delhi and Bathinda to New Delhi besides setting up of a railway link between Rajpura and Chandigarh, he said the Punjab government would make available the required land to lay the tracks. He said it would fulfil a long-pending demand of the people of this region.