DW BUREAU / NEW DELHI
The NDA ally Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) demanded in Rajya Sabha on Thursday that the Centre should give the surplus revenue collected so far from Chandigarh to the Punjab government till a political decision is taken on making the Union Territory as its capital.
Raising the issue during a debate on the Union Budget 2019-20, SAD leader Naresh Gujral (SAD) said Chandigarh was the capital of Punjab and it should be returned to the state.
“Punjab is the only state apart from Haryana which does not have its own capital. Chandigarh was our state capital. We need to have our Chandigarh back because the state capital is always the revenue generator,” he said.
All surplus revenue collected from the UT goes to the Centre, Gujral said, “Till such time, a political decision is taken, till then, give this money to Punjab.
“I can tell you, the money that has come to the Centre’s coffers since Punjab was divided, that amount if you total up over the years plus the interest, is more than the total debt on Punjab.”
Besides, Gujral also demanded that the central government set up a commission or appoint an arbitrator to resolve the Rs 30,000-crore payment issue with the state-run Food Corporation of India (FCI).
“A loan of Rs 30,000 crore has been put on us due to FCI.
Quiet frankly, we have not utilised that money,” he claimed. The FCI in Punjab, which feeds the entire country, gives the state advances for procurement, storage and transportation of foodgrain.
“But the transportation and labour rate are much higher in Punjab as compared to other states like Bihar, Odisha. All I am saying is please put an arbitrator. I am not asking to waive it. You make a commission and let it decide and we will accept.”
Expressing concern over depleting groundwater level in the state, the Akali Dal leader sought central government’s support to realign the canal system in the state. “In fact, Punjab is actually exporting water everytime we grow rice. So, we need support to realign our canal system,” he added.