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Punjab News: 2010




Chandigarh June 10:-

After the scrutiny of nomination papers and on the last date of with drawl of nomination papers for the two seats of Rajya Sabha from Punjab, Mr. Balwinder Singh Bhunder of Shiromani Akali Dal and Mrs. Ambika Soni of Indian National Congress had been declared elected today.

Disclosing this here today Ms. Kusumjit Sidhu Chief Electoral Officer Punjab said that these vacancies had fallen vacant on the expiration of the term of Smt. Ambika Soni and Sh. Raj Mohinder Singh. Returning Officer Mr. Ved Parkash for Biennial-Election to the Rajya Sabha elections from Punjab today declared them elected for Rajya Sabha seats and issue them certificates to this effect. Mr. Balwinder Singh Bhunder has received his certificate personally while certificate of Mrs. Ambika Soni received by Mr. Raj Pal Singh on behalf of Mrs. Ambika Soni.

Later Speaker Punjab Vidhan Sabha Mr. Nirmal Singh Kahlon congratulated Mr. Balwinder Singh Bhunder.   Prominent among others who were present on the occasion included     Mr. Kirpal Singh Badunger Chairman Backward Class Commission and Mr. Sikander Singh Maluka.





Punjab Chief Minister Mr. Parkash Singh Badal today slammed the Centre for the recent hike in the MSP of Paddy (Common) and (Grade ‘A’) varieties, which had been fixed at Rs.1000 and Rs.1030 per quintal respectively, which represents an increase of Rs.50 per quintal over the last year’s MSPs and described the ‘Centre’s deliberate attempt to rob the farmers of genuine margins consequently the agriculture continues to be a non-profitable venture and the plight of farmers is turning from worse to worst’.

In a statement, Mr. Badal said that this hike spoke volumes of Congress led UPA government’s complete insensitivity and its apathetic attitude towards the plight of the beleaguered farmers who were already in distress due to low returns on their produce despite exorbitant cost of agricultural inputs incurred by them on diesel, fertilizers, pesticides etc. Terming this insignificant hike as a cruel joke with the farming community, Mr. Badal said that the Centre should have appreciated the ground realities in a holistic manner to provide a level playing field to the farmers, rather adding to their woes with this unreasonable and un-remunerative hike in the prices of Paddy at a point of time when the MSP was not commensurate with the ever increasing costs of agricultural inputs.

It may be recalled that the state government had suggested a MSP of Rs.1350 and Rs.1400 per quintal for these varieties respectively to the Centre.

The Chief Minister further said that Centre should had realized the immense contribution of Punjab farmers to make our country self sufficient in food production to ensure national food security. He said instead of rewarding them with remunerative MSP, the Centre had actually demoralized them by announcing a meager hike of Rs.50 per quintal on paddy during the Kharif 2010-11 seasons, thereby making the agriculture a non-viable profession due to its irrational and arbitrary policies. Mr. Badal said that it was the high time for the Centre to awake from deep slumber in order to fix the MSP by providing a margin of 50% over the cost of production to the farmers as suggested by an agri expert Dr. MS Swaminathan.






The Annual Plan 2010-11 for the Punjab Government was finalized at Rs. 9150 crore at a meeting held today at Yojana Bhawan, New Delhi between Deputy Chairman Planning Commission of India Dr. Montek Singh Ahluwalia and Punjab Chief Minister Mr. Parkash Singh Badal. The Plan outlay includes an Additional Central Assistance of Rs. 333 crore earmarked for the priority projects, with 30% as central grant component.

Giving details of the plan outlay, a spokesman of the Punjab government said that the outlay for Annual Plan 2010-11 was Rs. 9150 crore, against the outlay of Rs.8600 crore for Annual Plan 2009-10. The budgeted plan was proposed at Rs. 4434 crore while the remaining Rs. 4716 crore would form the extra-budgetary component. The total resources projected for financing the Rs. 9150 crore annual plan were estimated to be Rs. 9136 crore. The outlays for AIBP projects and RKVY schemes were likely to go up.

The Spokesman further said that the top priority had been accorded to the energy sector for which 36% of the total plan outlay had been earmarked. Major share of the outlay would be spent on power generation, distribution and up-gradation of transmission. The Social Services Sector with 26% of the plan outlay was the second priority sector with thrust on pensions to old and other sections of the society, skill development and employment generation, rural water supply schemes, urban development and welfare of weaker sections. Road Transport Sector with 16% of the plan outlay was also a thrust area with major funding envisaged on account of World Bank and NABARD projects.

Taking part in the deliberations, Punjab Chief Minister Mr. Parkash Singh Badal apprised the Deputy Chairman Planning Commission Dr. Ahluwalia about the plan performance and mentioned the target for growth of state’s economy had been fixed at 5.90% during 11th Five Year Plan. The economic growth during the first three years of the plan had been 6.88%, 6.40% and 6.69% respectively. There had been hike in the expenditure from 70 to 84% during the last year on 16 flagship schemes.

Referring to the dismal financial position of the state, the Chief Minster informed Mr. Ahluwalia that the total accumulated debt was Rs.64924 crore coupled with the heavy borrowings to the tune of Rs.9000 crore in the year 2010-11 and debt servicing of Rs.6570 crore. Besides, there had been an additional burden of Rs.5292 crore due to the recommendations of Punjab Fifth Pay Commission.  Mr. Badal urged the Planning Commission to come out with a one time package to provide complete debt waiver or at least debt rescheduling in view of Punjab being the debt trapped state.

Outlining the additional resource mobilization, Mr. Badal pointed out the State government has made consistent efforts to improve the tax revenue which increased by 10%, 13% and 8% during the first three years of the plan. The government would raise additional resources of about Rs. 1200 crore in the year 2010-11 mainly on account of measures announced towards the end of the last financial year. These interalia include, 10% surcharge on VAT (Rs. 600 crore), increase in VAT from 4% to 5% (Rs. 100 crore), imposition of electricity charges on agriculture power (Rs. 500 crore), rationalization of power subsidy for SC and BPL families (Rs. 120 crore), imposition of irrigation cess (Rs. 120 crore) etc. The government was likely to raise more resources in the current year. The electricity duty had been enhanced by 3% which would give an additional amount of Rs. 270 crore. The state also expects to augment VAT, excise and stamp duty collections on account of better compliance.

Mr. Badal however, said that despite our best efforts in terms of additional resource mobilization, the budgetary estimates for 2010-11 projected a revenue deficit of Rs. 3788 crore (1.75% of GSDP) and Fiscal Deficit of Rs. 6706 crore (3.10% of the GSDP). Although, these were, well within the parameters of the road map laid down by the 13th Finance Commission for the State, our efforts to improve these vital fiscal indicators would continue. However, much to our disappointment the 13th Finance Commission had only marginally increased the share of states in central taxes from 30.5% to 32%. The formula adopted by the 13th Finance Commission for inter-se distribution among the States was also not favourable to developed State, like Punjab. As a result, the State’s share in the divisible pool of taxes has just increased from 1.299% under the 12th Finance Commission to 1.389% under the 13th Finance Commission.

On the agriculture front, Mr. Badal said that Punjab had contributed the maximum for food security. Its area under canal irrigation had reduced from 16.6 to 11 lac hectares registering a fall of about 30%. He said that there was an immediate need to rehabilitate, rejuvenate and strengthen the canal minors and fields channels. He pointed out agriculture research must be strengthened to evolve new varieties which were high yielding, pest resistant and less water consuming. He also asked the Planning Commission to set up Borlaugh Institute for South Asia (BISA) in Punjab for maize and wheat improvement. Mr. Badal also urged the Commission that prices should be fixed by providing a margin of 50% over the cost of production as suggested by Dr. Swaminathan, apart from strengthening the marketing infrastructure.

Dwelling on the crisis of rural indebtedness, Mr. Badal pointed out that the rural debts in the state was estimated at Rs. 36000 crore which had assumed the proportions of a grave human tragedy. He said that the state did not benefit much from the debt waiver scheme offered by GoI as there was less number of small and marginal farmers in Punjab. The Chief Minister strongly urged the GoI to waive all agricultural loans as one time measure regardless of the size of land holding. The landless farmers and agricultural labour should be brought in the gamut of the relief scheme and they should not be penalized for making regular repayment of loan.

To bail out the beleaguered farmers, the Chief Minister demanded a credit both on short term as well long term basis at the rate 4%. Likewise, he also impressed upon the GoI to provide compensation to cover total loss of the crop equivalent to the average yield of the crop of the state, as the Central Government’s current practice followed in this regard entitled meager compensation. He also advocated that compensation should be linked to deficiency in rainfall particularly in areas having assured facilities.

Highlighting the concern of BPL families in Punjab, the Chief Minister said that the total number of such families was limited to 5.23 lac, which was about 10.04 % of the families in the State. Having 29% SC population and 14.55 lac families availing food subsidy under the Atta Dal Scheme (criterion annual income less than Rs. 30,000), the State with limited number of BPL families does not receive adequate funds under the poverty alleviation programmes of GoI. Mr. Badal emphasized that recommendations of Tendulkar Committee report pegging poverty ratio in Punjab at 20.2% be accepted at the earliest. This would raise the number of BPL families in Punjab to nearly 10.15 lac. Dr. Ahluwalia assured the Chief Minister that the Tendulkar committee’s recommendations would be implemented shortly.

The Chief Minister urged the GoI to accord formal approval for extension of the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC) up to Amritsar as it had recently approved in principle its extension up to Ludhiana. TheEasternRail Freight Corridor from Kolkata to Ludhiana should also be extended to Amritsar and linked to the Western Freight Corridor with multi-logistic park facilities. These initiatives would be of great help in accelerating the pace of industrialization in the land locked State. Mr. Badal also asked the Centre to advise National Power Thermal Corporation to set up a Central Sector Thermal Plant in the state to further augment the power generation. The Planning Commission assured that they would take up this matter with NTPC.

Mr. Badal requested the Government of India to approve Rs. 100 crore for pending works under CRF and clear the backlog of Rs. 114 crore as on March 31, 2009. He mentioned that as per earlier formula, for allocating funds under Central Road Fund (CRF), the weightage was given to the states for area and fuel consumption in the ratio of 40:60. Now this ratio had been changed to 70:30. Due to this change, annual accrual for the State had reduced by over Rs. 28 crore during 2009-10.

Demanding a special package for the development of border areas, Mr. Badal pointed out that Punjab had a 553 km long international border with Pakistan. He demanded to immediately release Rs. 19 crore as compensation for farmers cultivating land on the other side of the fence @ Rs.10000 per acres for the 18500 acres and Rs. 20 crore on account of compensation for 11 ft BSF track along with the border fence.

The Chief Minister also urged the Planning Commission to cover Government Medical College at Patiala under the next phase of Pradhan Mantri Swasthya Suraksha Yojna besides one time central assistance for Guru Ravidas Ayurveda University. Apart from this he also demanded to declare the animal husbandry activities including dairy development and fisheries at par with agriculture by extending the facility of income tax exemption, besides including Punjab in venture capital fund scheme of NABARD. In order to give a big push to the diary development in the state, the Chief Minister sought one time grant of Rs.100 crore be provided to Sri Guru Angad Dev Veterinary & Animal Sciences University GADVASU so that it can support the state in producing quality manpower, generation and dissemination of technologies, address issues of climate change and emerging diseases etc. The State is in the process of setting up new polyclinics and up-grading the existing polyclinics and hospitals with Rs. 34 crore assistance from NABARD.

On the irrigation scenario, the Chief Minister apprised Dr. Ahluwalia that the State government had prepared a Rs. 734 crore project for extension, renovation and modernization of the canals being fed by river Sutluj. The Central Water Commission had given a technical clearance. Dr. Ahluwalia assured soon after the receipt of the case in the Planning Commission the investment clearance would be expedited. Likewise, the Chief Minister also urged the GoI that the grant component under all Accelerated Irrigation Benefit Programme (AIBP) assisted projects should be raised to 50%. Mr. Badal also requested that since the GoI was contributing 90% of cost for Rajasthan Feeder, its share for Sirhind Feeder for the Punjab part should also be increased from 25% to 90%.

Local Government & Industries Minister Mr.Manoranjan Kalia also put forth the proposal of giving special economic package to the states in view of the potential of particular state instead of general package. He said that Punjab should be given special economic package for the promotion of agro industries.

Underlining the need to declare MSP also for various crops like maize, oilseeds, pulses and fruits to enable our farmers to adopt effective agri- diversification and to get out of the wheat-paddy cycle, the Finance Minister Mr. Manpreet Singh Badal urged the Planning Commission to immediately intervene in this regard to further boost the prospects of agricultural development in the state.

Summing up the plan discussions, Dr. Ahluwalia expressed gratitude towards the Punjab Chief Minister and Finance Minister for making our country self reliant in the food grain production. He expressed hope that the state would make all efforts to mobilize additional resources to strengthen the weak financial position. He emphasized that the state should continue its efforts towards overall development of infrastructure in road sector, power, health, education and skill development. Mr. Ahluwalia also appreciated the state’s efforts in the implementation of power reforms by unbundling of PSEB and doing a way with the free power in the farm sector.

Meanwhile, the members of the Planning Commission including Prof. Abhijit Sen, Dr. K.Kasturirangan, Dr. (Ms) Syed Hameed, Mr. BK Chaturvedy, Mr. Arun Mairia and the Member Secretary Ms. Sudha Pillai also evaluated the state’s plan performance and also gave their valuable inputs to further improve the levels of performance by making optimum utilization of financial resources at their end in respective departments.

Prominent amongst others who attended the meeting included Vice Chairman State Planning Board Prof. Rajinder Bhandari, Chief Parliamentary Secretary (Finance & Planning) Mr. Raj Khurana, Chief Secretary Mr. SC Agrawal, Principal Secretary to Chief Minister Mr. DS Guru, Principal Secretary Finance KBS Sidhu, Secretary Planning Mr. Satish Chandra, Special Secretary Planning Ms.Bhawna Garg, Resident Commissioner Punjab Bhawan Mr. K.Siva Prasad and other senior officers of the state government.





Chandigarh June 10:

Punjab Deputy Chief Minister Mr. Sukhbir Singh Badal today out rightly rejected the meager hike of Rs. 50/ per quintal in the Minimum Support Price (MSP) of Paddy as announced by the Union government by describing it a cruel joke with the already beleaguered farming community and demanded for a minimum hike of Rs. 550. The MSP of Paddy has been fixed at Rs. 1000/- per quintal and of Paddy (Grade A) at Rs. 1030/- per quintal.

In a statement, Mr. Badal pointed out that the Union government’s decision was more shocking in view of the prevailing conditions, when the farmers were fighting not only with uncontrolled ever increasing agri- input costs and severe shortage of labour, and this decision of Congress led UPA would badly hit the Punjabi farmers. He appealed the Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh to personally intervene to get the MSP enhanced at least to Rs. 1500/- per quintal.

Listing the initiatives of Punjab government to bail out the farming community reeling under huge debt, Mr. Badal said that SAD-BJP government was providing Rs. 75000/- subsidy on the purchase of each Paddy Transplanter besides making elaborate arrangements for sufficient power and canal water supply for timely sowing of Paddy. He once again urged the PM to review the decision of meager hike in Paddy MSP keeping in view the significant contribution of Punjab farmers in ensuring Nation’s food security.



Punjab takes lead in setting new model of Co-operative Societies

Visit Of GoI Team to Study Multipurpose Cooperative Societies In Punjab

Chandigarh June 10:

The Ministry of Agriculture & Cooperation, Government of India has sent a special team led by Sh. D.N. Thakur, Director and Mr. Sebastain Joseph, Deputy Director to study the concept of Multipurpose Cooperative Societies in Punjab. 400 Primary Agricultural Cooperative Societies ( PACS ) were converted into Multipurpose Cooperative Societies on experimental basis during 2003 to work as Business Hubs in Rural Areas. The main purpose of setting up Multipurpose Cooperative Societies is to encourage farmers to use agricultural machinery and implements on customs hiring basis and for that purpose Agro Service Centres have been set up in almost 1000 societies in Punjab. Besides, these societies are encouraged to undertake various activities like running petrol/diesel outlets, education institutions, consumer stores, local transport etc. Based upon the experience in Punjab, the experiment is likely to be replicated in all States of the Indian Union very shortly.

A few days back, the Government of Tamil Nadu had also deputed a team of senior officers to visit Punjab and study the working of the Agro Service Centres.

Out of 3452 PACS 2533 have been converted into Multipurpose Cooperative Agri. Societies and these societies have opened 731 Agriculture Service Centres and 1760 distribution centres to provide quality inputs as well as consumer articles at the door steps in rural Areas. 786 tractors with 4000 implements are available to farmers on nominal rent through these Multipurpose Societies. Computer training centres, Schools, transportation facilities are some of the numerous activities undertaken by these societies.

Positive impact has been felt on the economy of Punjab. The team during its study, in one of the so converted Multipurpose Society namely Sukhanand in Moga Distt of Punjab, noted that farmers of the village have purchased Diesel worth Rs 1.98 crores from its Petrol pump. Goods worth more than 50 lakhs have been sold by the store of the society. 78 women have been provided occupational training to make them self dependent. Library and health club gym have become very popular in the village. Farmers have stated selling their own tractors as it is economical to lend the same from the society. 14 farmers saved Rs 40 lacs by doing so. 300 out of a total of 739 farmers are using the common machinery.



Written Test for PROs/APROs posts on July 04,2010

Chandigarh June 10:

Information and Public Relations Department Punjab has decided to conduct written test for the recruitment of Public Relations Officers (PROs) and Assistant Public Relations Officers (APROs) on July 04, 2010 (Sunday).

Disclosing this here today, a spokesman of Public Relations Department Punjab said that admit cards to all the eligible candidates had been dispatched. In case of non receipt of admit card by 28-06-2010, the eligible candidates may contact the Establishment Branch, Information and Public Relations Department, Punjab, 5th Floor (Hall), Punjab Civil Secretariat, Chandigarh on any working day during office hours.

The spokesman further said that the posts of PROs and APROs were advertised by the department in ‘The Tribune, Daily Ajit and Punjab Kesari’ on September 10, 2009.





Chandigarh, June 10:

The Irrigation Department, Punjab has announced the Rotational Programme for irrigation for the Kharif Season through Canal water from 12-6-2010 to 19-6-2010. The channels of Sirhind Canal System would run on the priority basis from Sidhwan Branch, Bathinda Branch, Bist Doab, Abohar Branch and Patiala feeder, respectively.

Disclosing this here today a spokesman of the irrigation department said that direct distributaries of Bhakra Main Line in group 'A' being in the channels of first preference will run to their indent and balance water supplies available will be utilized in Ghaggar Branch and its off taking channels i.e Ghaggar Branch and Patiala Minor in Group 'B' respectively.

The spokesman further said that all the direct distributaries of Sirhind Feeder in group 'A' being in the First preference will run to their indent and balance water supplies available would be utilised in Abohar Branch off-taking from Sirhind Feeder and its distributaries/Minors in  Group 'B'.

The spokesman also said that the channels off taking from upper Bari Doab Canal i.e. Kasur Branch Lower with its distributaries being in the channels of first Preference would run to their indent and balance water would be supplies water available in Sabraon Branch, Lahore Branch, Main Branch Lower with their distributaries respectively.




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