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Cash Crunch
Badal makes a budget-eve plea for money
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 24
Punjab wants the Centre to take off from its shoulders the additional financial burden of Rs 1,420 crore the state incurred in honoring its commitment of providing 13 lakh MT of paddy to the Central pool.

In his letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and the Finance Minister, Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal has asked them to make a budgetary provision for a special onetime grant to offload the extra financial liabilities of the state electricity board.

The Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) not only had to buy power from other states at exorbitant rates but also divert supplies from both domestic and industrial consumers to meet the additional requirement of farmers because of the poor monsoon.

Badal regretted that his earlier communication to the Centre in November last year failed to evoke any response despite farmers battling all odds to keep their promise of feeding the Central pool. The state government said the farmers put in extra efforts despite the cost of production rising steeply because of higher costs of inputs, including power. On an average, the additional financial burden was to the tune of Rs 2,000 an acre. And the bonus of Rs 50 per quintal was far too inadequate to compensate the farmers.

Badal reminded the PM of his appreciation of Punjab farmers for fulfilling their commitment to the Central pool and promised to compensate them adequately. Its high time for the Union government to get this burden off her back, Badal said.

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