NEW DELHI, MARCH 15: Congress Rajya Sabha member from Punjab Partap Singh Bajwa on Monday accused the Centre of giving a step-motherly treatment to the state. He also highlighted how instead of lending a helping hand in dealing with COVID-19 induced economic slowdown, it is cutting down on central assistance.
Raising the matter during Zero Hour in the House, Bajwa said, “Instead of helping the State of Punjab recover from the COVID-19 economic slowdown, the Government of India has taken steps to harm the State, such as cutting the Rural Development Fund (RDF) from 3 per cent to 1 per cent, which will cause a loss of over Rs. 1,000 crore to the exchequer of the state”.
He also highlighted that at the height of the pandemic, the Centre had arrears over Rs. 8,200 crore to the state, due to slow release of GST dues.
Further noting the March 11 order of the Food Corporation of India (FCI), in which it has been proposed tighter quality controls for the procurement of wheat and paddy, the Congress MP pointed that this move comes barely 15 days before the harvesting of wheat begins in Punjab.
“The new requirements such as 12 per cent moisture content and reduction of foreign matter in the produce are weather related, and by penalising the farmers for this, the Government of India is essentially arguing that global warming is in the hands of the farmers,” Bajwa said.
Bajwa alleged that the Centre is trying to punish farmers for their protests by making it practically impossible for them to sell their products at MSP, and thereby allowing the central government agencies to run away from procurement.
“Nearly 45 per cent of land holdings in Punjab are leased out, and such a move along with direct bank transfers to the land owner, will greatly affect the cultivator,” he said.