New Delhi, April 20 (IANS) Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Thursday sought Prime Minister Narendra Modis support to the state government for selling its surplus power to Pakistan or Nepal in the “economic interest of the cash-crunched state”.
In a meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi here, Singh also sought the central government’s support to make agriculture more sustainable for Punjab farmers by putting in place a “Deficiency Price Payment” mechanism to encourage a shift to non-paddy cultivation, an official said.
Pointing to the 1,000MW surplus power availability in Punjab after meeting its internal demand, the Chief Minister said sale of power to neighbouring Pakistan, or Nepal, as the case may be, would save the citizens of the state from the burden of any extra taxes, and also save the power consumers from the extra burden of fixed cost of power generating units.
“The Chief Minister pointed out that as Punjab shares its border with Pakistan and its Goindwal Sahib thermal power plant is situated close to the international border, it would not be difficult for the state to supply power to Pakistan on continuous basis,” Singh’s Media Advisor Raveen Thukral said.
“He further said that Punjab would be happy to supply electricity also to Nepal, which intends to meet its power shortfall by purchasing it from India, if the government of India agrees,” he added.
Expressing concern over the problems faced by the Punjab farmers living in border areas, Amarinder Singh also requested a hike in the central government’s compensation for such farmers to ensure effective and stronger border management.
Singh also expressed concern over reports of possible revival of concession package to the neighbouring states of Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir, saying it would negate the Punjab government’s efforts to bring in investment, create jobs for the unemployed youth and revive the state’s economy, Thukral said.
Referring to the plight of the state’s farmers, who were suffering from declining real farm incomes due to agricultural stagnation, the Chief Minister stressed the need for diversification of farming away for paddy and sought financial support from the Centre for farmers compelled to sell their maize produce at a price lower than the minimum support price (MSP).
In an hour-long meeting, the Chief Minister also batted for compensation for farmers owning land beyond the International Border with Pakistan, as they face significant restrictions on the types of crops to be cultivated due to security reasons.
In a separate development, Punjab Chief Secretary Karan Avtar Singh met Union Water Resources Ministry Secretary Amarjit Singh and sought Centre’s intervention in the Satluj-Yamuna Link (SYL) canal matter to save Punjab from an ecological disaster. The matter is currently pending in the Supreme Court.