Abolish centrally-sponsored schemes: Parkash Singh Badal

Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal Thursday demanded abolition of centrally-sponsored schemes saying they do not serve the desired purpose.

Addressing a meeting of the National Development Council here, Badal said the centrally-sponsored schemes are formulated without taking into account the unique problems of states, thus leaving little choice in prioritising its development plan.

"The state government is of the view that the centrally-sponsored schemes do not serve desired purpose and should be abolished and the state should be given their earmarked allocation as un-tied grants," Badal said.

He said states are in a better position to leverage their strengths and utilise the funds according to their development needs.

Badal also called for an urgent need to change the policy orientation as a large section of the people are yet to attain the benefits of India's growth story.

"We have achieved high growth rate in the economy in terms of infrastructure development, capital intensive industrialisation and high investment. However, large sections of people have remained excluded from the growth story," Badal said.

He lamented that the country had been unable to cope up with the problems of poverty, unemployment besides providing basic amenities like education, healthcare and drinking water even after 60 years of planning.

Badal also urged the Centre to pay special attention to farm indebtedness and waive all agricultural loans as one time measure regardless of the size of landholding.

"The state did not benefit much from the earlier debt waiver scheme which was limited to defaulters and small farmers," he said.

Referring to the industrial scenario in Punjab, the Chief Minister said that despite availability of power, excellent infrastructure and complete industrial peace, the state had a disadvantage due to its landlocked location with a hostile border. He added that prolonged militancy, abolition of freight equalisation policy and tax concessions to neighbouring states have further contributed to decline in industrial growth. He urged the centre to extend Delhi - Mumbai Industrial Corridor and Eastern Freight Corridor upto Amritsar (Attari Border). He also demanded that Punjab, being an agricultural state, should be provided assistance for agro-processing industries as is given to the hill states.

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