Chandigarh, February 22:

A team comprising top officials from different departments of the Punjab Government today gave a department-wise presentation to the NITI Aayog on the issues of the state of Punjab with the Government of India. The NITI Aayog Team led by Vice Chairman Dr. Rajiv Kumar gave a patient hearing to the issues of state concern during a meeting in this regard held here at Punjab Bhawan in the presence of Punjab Finance Minister Mr. Manpreet Singh Badal and Chairman of Punjab State Farmers’ Commission Mr. Ajay Vir Jakhar.

Giving an account of this meeting, an official spokesman of the Punjab Government said that the departments of Agriculture, Cooperation, Forest, Housing and Urban Development, Water Supply and Sanitation, School Education, Water Resources, Medical Education and Research, Tourism and Revenue, Rehabilitation & Disaster Management brought in the notice of NITI Aayog the department wise pending issues of the state with the GoI.

Divulging further, the spokesman said that the Agriculture Department raised the issues including the fixation of MSP of crops by providing a margin of 50 percent above C2, review of sharing pattern of centrally sponsored schemes, financial assistance to check burning of crop residues, farm loan waiver for small and marginal farmers, special package for modernization of Irrigation Infrastructure and purchase of ethanol as a feedstock be allowed in addition to molasses to promote crop diversification. “The Cooperation department seeks the creation of fund at the level of Government of India for providing assistance to cooperative banks to maintain CRAR as mandated by the Reserve Bank of India and restoration of exemption available under section 80 P of Income Tax Act, 1961 to State and Central Cooperative Banks”, he added.

The spokesman further revealed that the School Education Department calls for empowering states by giving Central funding to the state along with broad objectives of the programme and micro planning be left to the state. Describing the demand of School education department of relinking of programmes/Schemes by GoI, the spokesman said, “The Education Department also raised the issue that GOI starts a programme and state starts implementing it. After few years, GOI stops its funding support and the programme becomes liability of the State Government. Almost all the states are suffering from such decisions like delinking of Model Schools etc”.

School Education Department also raised its concern regarding payment of the salary of various volunteers engaged under various schemes of GoI which were later discontinued besides seeking upward revision of financial norms of various components of SSA/RMSA and MDM. The department also raised the issue of provision of sufficient funding for Senior Secondary Classes under New Integrated Scheme, Revision of Section 16 and 27 of the RTE Act, 2009, integration of Central Government Portal with State Government and Revision of cooking cost under Mid Day Meal Scheme. The financial issues pending with Ministry of Human Resource Development were also discussed, he added.

Giving a brief account of issues raised by Water Resources Department, Spokesman said that the Department has stressed on the need to considered projects like extension, renovation & modernization of canals being fed from river Satluj, rehabilitation of UBDC system, relining of Rajasthan Feeder and Sirhind feed and Shahpur Kandi Dam under the priority list. The department also sought the release of balance funds for the projects like water logging problem in southwestern districts, RMABA, CADWM and project for construction of flood protection works along left and right sides of the river Beas in the districts of Gurdaspur, Hoshiarpur, and Kapurthala. The department also sought the amendments in the norms/conditions of Incentivization Scheme for Bridging Irrigation Gap (ISBIG) viz a viz situation prevalent in the state.

Meanwhile, the Forest Department raised the issue of final approval of ‘Punjab Biodiversity and Natural Resources Conservation Project’ and the Department of Housing and Urban Development sought direction to designated banks to fast-track the validation/disposal of applications under Credit Linked Subsidy Scheme (CLSS) in a time-bound manner to complete it upto March 31, 2018. The Water Supply & Sanitation Department sought amendment in the guidelines of National Rural Drinking Water Programme (NRDWP) demanding the inclusion of Kandi Area, Border Area and Dark Blocks of Punjab in the 40 percent weightage given under various programmes like Desert Development besides updating the MGNREGA Master Circular to cover the operations and maintenance of Rural Water Supply Schemes under MGNREGA as the same have been withdrawn under NRDWP.

The Medical Education and Research Department stressed that requisite infrastructure should be brought at the earliest so that the first session of AIIMS, Bathinda may start from 2019-20. The department also sought direction to PGI to expedite its consent and start the project of Satellite Centre at Ferozepur.

The Revenue, Rehabilitation and Disaster Management department sought amendment in Assistance to Victims of Terrorists and Communal Violence Scheme, Enhancement in Relief for damage to crops, approval and release of funds under Digital India Land Records Modernization Programme and raised the issue of crop compensation to the private landowners (farmers) across the barbed wire on the Indo-Pak border.

The Tourism Department raised the issue of clearance of the project proposal for upgradation of Food Craft Institute (FCI), Hoshiarpur into a State Institute of Hotel Management.

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