Punjab's annual Plan pegged at Rs 8,625 crore

Written by fe Bureau | Chandigarh | Updated: Jun 27 2009, 05:32am hrs
The annual Plan for 2009-10 for Punjab has been pegged at Rs 8,625 crore, Harcharan Bains, media advisor to chief minister Parkash Singh Badal, told FE on Friday.

He said the Plan size represents an increase of Rs 2,415 crore, a leap of 39% over the previous year. The Plan expenditure during 2008-09 was Rs 6,868 crore against an outlay of Rs 6,210 crore.

He said the Plan size was approved after the chief minister met Planning Commission deputy chairman Dr Montek Singh Ahluwalia today. He said 31% of the total Plan was earmarked for the energy sector, with a thrust toward power generation, distribution and upgrading transmission. The social services sector, with 26% of the Plan outlay, was the second priority sector, with a thrust on pensions, skill development, employment generation, rural water supply schemes, urban development and welfare of weaker sections. Road transport sector with 23% of the Plan outlay was also a thrust area, with major funding envisaged on account of World Bank and Nabard projects.

Bains said the CM, while referring to the dismal financial position of the state, told Ahluwalia that implementation of the Sixth Pay Commission recommendations from August 1 would further strain the state's finances as it would generate an annual liability of Rs 3,000 crore. The payment of arrears would involve an additional burden of Rs 4,800 crore.

Badal pleaded that in view of the recession, the borrowing limit of the states should be enhanced from 3.5% to at least 5% of the gross state domestic product (GSDP) for 2009-10. He also pleaded that the Centre should cover at least 50% additional expenditure on account of implementation of the pay panel recommendations and Punjab should be given a grant of Rs 1,500 crore for pay revision during 2009-10.

On the agriculture front, Badal urged the Centre to waive all agricultural loans as a one-time measure, regardless of the size of land holdings. Landless farmers and agricultural labour should be brought under the gamut of the relief scheme. Likewise, he also advocated that the commission for agricultural costs and prices (CACP) needs to re-examine the existing methodology of fixation of MSP. The MSP should account for the cost of production and should be linked to the consumer price index. The other alternative was to accept and implement the recommendations of the National Commission on Farmers, chaired by noted farm economist Dr MS Swaminathan, that the MSP should be equal to the cost of production, plus 50% as profit.

The CM sought the Planning Commission's immediate intervention for clearance of all projects, including Shahpur Kandi project, which have been declared as national projects. He also sought the Centre's intervention to finalise coal linkage for the Gidderbaha thermal power project and to bring power component of the Shahpurkandi hydro power project under the special category, besides setting up at least one thermal plant by NTPC in Punjab and early completion of the Rs 2,700-crore gas pipeline project of GAIL from Dadri to Nangal in Punjab.