Central Govt gave nothing to farmers, says Sukhbir


Staff member
Chandigarh September 21:

The Punjab Government has clarified that the Centre has not extended any financial help to the state for passing on to farmers.

The Rs 800 crore received by the state from the Centre is specifically meant for passing on to the Punjab State Electricity Corporation (PSEC) with the riders that if it is used for any other purpose, it will be taken back with interest. Deputy CM Sukhbir Singh Badal said this point was made clear at a presentation of the Finance Department made before the Cabinet yesterday.

He said: “Though the CM should be clarifying the position, I can say this with certainty that the money cannot be used for any other purpose than compensating the PSEC, which bought additional power during kharif- 2009.” He said it clearly meant that the Centre did not give any money to Punjab to be distributed among farmers for additional electricity they used on irrigation on account of adverse weather conditions.

Punjab CM Parkash Singh Badal who met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh earlier this year had demanded an agriculture package to the tune of Rs 3,000 crore for Punjab farmers on account of additional input costs. Sukhbir said Punjab would soon be taking up the case with the Centre seeking assistance for the agriculture sector.

He said when the money was received by Punjab, it was not accompanied by any letter either to the Chief Secretary or to the CM’s office saying that the money could not be distributed among farmers. He said now the Finance Department had disclosed the contents of the letter, which marked the money for a specific purpose.

The letter from the Ministry of Finance, Department of Expenditure, says that the sanctioned amount is on account of drought during the kharif- 2009 and is in the form of “Central assistance for additional cost incurred by the Punjab Government in providing power to the agriculture sector during the kharif- 2009”.

Sukhbir said the letter mentioned that the Rs 800 crore had been released to Punjab for its further release to the “implementing agency (PSEC) without any delay failing which the amount would be recovered from the government with interest”. He added that as promised, the state government had announced the release of productivity bonus to farmers. “But this will only be given to those who pay their electricity bills,” he added. He said the exact modalities were being worked out by the Chief Secretary and would be implemented immediately.