Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh has sought ‘special category’ status for Punjab to facilitate restoration of the 90:10 sharing pattern for Centrally sponsored schemes, to enable the state to expedite its development programmesAt a meeting here with NITI Aayog Vice Chairman Dr Rajiv Kumar on Thursday, the Chief Minister also reiterated the state’s demand for central assistance in key areas of the state’s development, including special package for border areas and river protection along the border, in the interest of national security.Describing the meeting as a preliminary one, an official spokesperson later disclosed that the Chief Minister underlined the need for differential treatment for Punjab in view of its active border, with a hostile neighbour, and its dense population. Pointing out that the sharing pattern for Punjab had been changed to 50:50, Captain Amarinder called for it to be restored to the original 90:10, which is now applicable only to special category states. In this context, he called for inclusion of Punjab in the list of special category states, on account of its volatile border.The Chief Minister once again raised the issue of central support for farm loan waiver for Punjab farmers and financial assistance to check burning of crop residue, while seeking a special package for modernisation of irrigation infrastructure, in order to promote sustainable agriculture in the state.
Captain Amarinder also underlined the need for central assistance in conservation and more efficient use of ground water, which is fast depleting, leading to critical shortage of water for irrigation purposes in the state.The issue of execution of the much-delayed PGI Satellite Centre project at Ferozepur was also raised by the Chief Minister during the meeting. Sanctioned more than four years ago, the project is yet to take off, depriving the people of the region of some much-needed medical facilities, Captain Amarinder told Dr Rajiv.The Chief Minister also sought the central government’s support in coverage of operation and maintenance of Rural Water Supply scheme under MGNREGA to help the state government fast-track the supply of this critical resource to the villages.Prominent amongst others who were present in the meeting included Member Niti Aayog Prof. Ramesh Chand, Finance Minister Manpreet Singh Badal, Media Advisor to CM Raveen Thukral, Chief Principal Secretary to CM Suresh Kumar, Principal Secretary to CM Tejveer Singh and Principal Secretary Finance Anirudh Tiwari.