New Delhi: Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) president Sukhbir Singh Badal Monday demanded that Chandigarh should be made the capital solely of Punjab, rather being a union territory and the capital of both Punjab and Haryana.
Participating in a debate on Union Budget in the Lok Sabha, Sukhbir said remittance of all resources and revenues collected from the union territory should be paid to Punjab, besides payment of a royalty to the state for the use of its water resources. Stating that capital cities were force multipliers, Badal said the amount of revenue a state capital could generate was phenomenal.
"The Centre's promise of making Chandigarh the capital of Punjab remains unfulfilled till now. It should be made the capital and the revenue and resources generated by Chandigarh should be collected by the state," he said in a statement issued by SAD.
He made a slew of demands for Punjab, including a tax holiday for the state and royalty from Rajasthan for availing its water resources. About the depleting groundwater in the state, Sukhbir said that in the last ten years, despite six deficient monsoons, Punjab farmers had increased the productivity of paddy and wheat.
"This, however, came at a great cost, with the state's only resource 'water' depleting. Water should be given the same importance as coal, iron ore and gas. "It is time for the country to help Punjab and grant special funds for upgrading its canal system, rejuvenating groundwater, diversifying from wheat and paddy," he said, adding there should be an assured support price for alternate crops.
Raising the problems being faced by farmers whose lands are situated along the Pakistan border in the no man's land, Badal said farmers tilling 17,000 acres did not have freedom to tend to their crops or irrigate wheat, mustard, chana and vegetables. He suggested that either this land should be acquired by the central government or it should pay a yearly compensation of Rs 20,000 per acre to farmers.
Describing the Union budget presented by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman as a bold, revolutionary and futuristic document, he said it addresses concerns of all sectors.