M A I N   N E W S

Plan panel clears slew of schemes for Punjab
Ajay Banerjee/TNS

The Booster

  • The panel at an internal review meeting on Saturday gave in-principle approval to creation of industrial infrastructure in the border districts and training youth in specialised skills
  • A cancer research centre for the Malwa region has been okayed
  • The state will now have greater access to Central funds in irrigation and rural development sectors
  • An expert committee will be set up to look into crop diversification

New Delhi, May 12
It’s a move that could obliterate many of Punjab’s woes. The Planning Commission has given an in-principle approval to a slew of schemes, which, once implemented, promise to usher in a much-needed change in the northern state.

The panel at an internal review meeting today approved new projects to create industrial infrastructure in the border districts and train youth in specialised skills. It also okayed a cancer research centre for the Malwa region, new norms that will allow the state greater access to Central funds and most importantly an expert committee that will look into crop diversification.

A beaming Minister for State for Planning Ashwani Kumar told The Tribune: “This is a major initiative of the UPA government. The Union Government has never discriminated with any state when it comes to to development projects.” The SAD-BJP government led by Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal has often accused the Centre of not doing enough for the state.

In its new plan, the commission has cleared a project to boost industrial infrastructure in the border districts of Amritsar and Tarn Taran. This will begin with setting up of industrial complexes. The commission will help Punjab find funds for it. These complexes are aimed at taking advantage of the new liberalised trade regime with Pakistan through the Attari-Wagah land route. The second part of the initiative will be to develop ancillary infrastructure at Bathinda where a refinery has been set up. “The panel will support and fund these initiatives”, said sources.

Along with the industrial infrastructure, a national-level institutional facility will be established for upgrading skills of youth to help them jobs in these industrial complexes.

The project to set up a cancer research facility to tackle the deathly swipe of the disease in the Malwa region has the backing of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi, said Kumar.

The PM has asked the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC), the Tata Memorial hospital in Mumbai and the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) to put together a plan.

For the state, which has a fast depleting water table thanks to ecologically unviable paddy cultivation, the Plan Panel has agreed to set up an expert group on agricultural diversification and rationalisation of use of ground water. Punjab is the second highest extractor of underground water at 33.97 billion cubic metres (BCM) annually. Only UP, which is more than ten times the size of Punjab, extracts more water (46 BCM).

The group will be headed by an international expert and will be formed in consultation with the state government.

On the irrigation and rural development front, the panel has proposed modifications in existing schemes to make Punjab eligible for Central funds. Punjab has long maintained that the norms of Central schemes suit only underdeveloped states. The commission has decided in principle to support the revitalisation of the fabled 14,500-km-long canal network in the state. It will ask the Rural Development Ministry and Water Resources Ministry to draw up a plan. In case they do not have the funds, the Planning Commission will provide the necessary allocation. Punjab will also be allowed some relaxation to access funds under the Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana (RKVY) and the Accelerated Irrigation Benefits Programme (AIBP).





HOME PAGE | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Opinions |
| Business | Sports | World | Letters | Chandigarh | Ludhiana | Delhi |
| Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |