Punjab has always stood against external intrusions and hence must be considered as a security case, not just as an economic case at the time of budgetary allocation, state Finance Minister Manpreet Singh Badal said here on Tuesday.
Badal made the demand during a virtual discussion with Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on stepping up investment, infrastructure and growth in the country.
While strongly recommending special packages to wean away the agrarian state to industries, the Finance Minister apprised the Union minister that the land-locked state also deserves special packages on a par with its neighbouring states such as Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir and Uttarakhand, saying that biological chain of Punjab is very strong and its people are very hard working.
“Let not the geography of Punjab define its future as the state fought for the nation in 1947, 1962, 1965 and 1971, besides the 10 years war against terrorism which was sponsored by “our friends” across the border, added Badal.
Punjab needs some nourishment from the Centre as the state is facing new age challenges in transition of agriculture, the Finance Minister said while urging the Union Finance Minister to come out with some schemes, which was given to industry so that Punjab can successfully migrate to other crops or animal husbandry from two crop pattern.
It will not only increase the income of the farmers but also help in conservation of groundwater and solve the problem of stubble burning which is again a burning issue in the country.
Badal sought the allotment of a pharma park, a food park and a textile park for Punjab, which will act as a game changing step for the state.
As far as power generation is concerned, Badal said Punjab is the farthest destination from coal mines and actually “we want to switch from fossil fuels into either solar or gas if possible. If we can somehow retire our coal-fired power stations, power will become cheap in the state.”
He said Punjab has very good infrastructure in terms of logistics and everything but there are missing links in railways, including at Patti and Makhu, Rajpura and Mohali, and Beas and Qaddian.
“You will be presenting a railway budget with the Union budget, if these links of just 20-30 km can find favour in your budget, Punjab would be very well placed in terms of Railways and travelers won’t have to make round trips to Ambala to get to Rajasthan or Gujarat,” said Badal.
Urging to look for options to provide services to the citizens at their doorsteps using technology, he urged the Union Finance Minister to ask the Union Health Minister to start the National Institute of Virology as soon as possible.