· Lashes out at Union Govt. for step-motherly treatment with Punjab while granting special package of incentives to neighboring states
· Urges Centre to immediately withdraw the decision to save the land-locked states from investors’ migration
· Seeks special incentives at par with North Eastern States and suggests to constitute Western Border States Advisory Council
CHANDIGARH : Standing at the front against the Union Government’s decision to extend BSF jurisdiction in Punjab, Technical Education & Industrial Training, Employment Generation & Training, Horticulture and Soil & Water Conservation Minister, Rana Gurjeet Singh, on Tuesday said that the border state has been ignored while granting special package of incentives to neighboring states like Himachal Pradesh for capital investment subsidy and now, the extension of BSF Jurisdiction from 15 km to 50 km is yet another jolt to Punjab. It has created a panic and a sense of insecurity in investors. How the investor shall go to the 25,000 sq. km border belt (out of a total of 50,000) which is under the jurisdiction of the Security Force Rana asked. Even the adjoining industrial units of Home Grown Industries would consider shifting to safer places.
Lashing out at the Modi Government for step-motherly treatment with the agrarian state, while addressing a press conference here at Punjab Bhawan, Rana Gurjeet Singh said, on the other side, jurisdiction has been cut short by 20 km in 5 north eastern states of Manipur, Mizoram, Tripura, Nagaland and Meghalaya where it has had jurisdiction of 80 km. In Gujarat, it has been curtailed from 80 to 50. There should be a level playground and such imbalance would even hit trade, commerce and industry in the land-locked states, besides creating tiffs between central and state agencies.
Punjab has already lost its economic face due to saturated yields of wheat and rice, said Rana Gurjeet, while adding that no breakthrough in diversification of crops, food processing for value addition, horticulture and forestry is taking place. Continuously depleting the water table will make us a desert state. Agriculture sector of Punjab needs to be strengthened. Punjab is a major producer of Basmati Rice and quality vegetables. It is the need of the hour that export of the Basmati Rice should be allowed from this zone and vegetable processing units established so as to enable the farmers to make their produce profitably viable, he stressed.
Agriculture sector especially in the Border area is already under stress and extension of the BSF jurisdiction will further add to their difficulties, said the Cabinet Minister. Urging the union government to make the agriculture sector sustainable there, liberal incentives need to be given, he said. In view of the continuous depletion of water table in Punjab, the state government was stressing for adoption of drip irrigation system. The Centre Government should come forward with liberalized and incentivized schemes. He suggested that 90% subsidies should be given to the farmers of the Border Area under the central schemes for drip irrigation system.
There is a dire need to reconsider the jurisdiction issue in concurrence with the state and grant special incentives at par with North Eastern States. The first step in this direction would be to constitute a Western Border States Advisory Council having Chief Ministers/Governor of the states as members under the Chairmanship of Union Home Minister on the pattern of North East Council to deliberate the issue of creating of a dedicated Corpus Fund pooled through a mandatory contribution from all the Union Ministries in the Union Budget.
The Cabinet Minister assured that he would request Punjab Chief Minister Mr. Charanjit Singh Channi to convene a one day session of the Vidhan Sabha to pass a resolution and to take up the matter with the Union Government to reconsider the BSF jurisdiction extension and lead a delegation of all the stakeholders for a meeting with Prime Minister of India.