New Delhi, Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) President Sukhbir Singh Badal on Monday reminded the Centre it had “not fulfilled” its promise on Punjab’s capital, saying his state remained deprived the “phenomenal” amount of revenue and resource that a state capital generates.
He raised the issued while participating in the general discussion in the Lok Sabha on Union Budget 2019-20 presented last week.
“Punjab does not have a state capital and unfortunately, its state capital is a Union Territory under the Central government. Punjab has been deprived of its due state capital and the amount of revenue and resource that a state capital generate is phenomenal,” Badal said, noting how Mumbai is generating huge revenue for its state.
Strongly putting forth his case for the state Capital, he said that all the resources and revenues that the Central government have collected from Chandigarh all these years should be “remitted back to Punjab”.
He also spoke about the impending Punjab water crisis and said that 80 per cent of water blocks in the state are over-exploited as against 71 per cent in Rajasthan, making Punjab’s water situation worse.
“Punjab’s farmers are producing increased crops despite deficient monsoons year after year. In last 10 years, Punjab faced six deficient monsoons but Punjab farmers increased the production of paddy and wheat,” he said.
Seeking to build a strong case for giving royalty to Punjab for mining its only resource ‘water’, he compared it with other states’ resources like coal, iron ore, oil, and gas. He also demanded special funds for rejuvenating of ground water and upgradation of canals.
Raising the critical issue of farmland along the Pakistan border in Punjab falling in no-man’s land, Badal said that farmers of 17,000 acres of land did not have the freedom to tend to their crop of wheat, mustard, chana, and vegetables. He demanded that either Centre buys out their land or gives them yearly compensation of Rs 20,000 per acre.
He presented a case for giving a ‘tax holiday’ to Punjab as it has suffered for two decades because of the exodus of industries to neighbouring hilly states like Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Uttrakhand which have been given extended Tax Holidays for encouraging industries in these states.
He otherwise supported the budget terming it “bold, revolutionary and futuristic”.