Terming the decision to put Punjab’s Rural Development Fund (RDF) on hold as unfortunate, Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Friday urged the Centre to review the decision as the move would badly impact the rural development works in the state.
Questioning the timing of the Centre’s move, the Chief Minister said there was no precedent to not releasing the RDF that was due to the state during scrutiny of the utilisation of previous funds. The Chief Minister said he has asked his Finance Minister Manpreet Singh Badal to go to Delhi to meet the Union Minister for Consumer Affairs to resolve the issue, which had hit the state hard amid the fiscal crisis it is facing.
The state government, said Captain Amarinder, will submit all utilisation details as sought by the Centre, as it had done in the past too. While this was not the first time the Government of India had gone for a scrutiny of the utilisation funds, this was, however, a first as far as non-release of RDF was concerned, he said, expressing serious concern over the development.
The Chief Minister said doubts were being raised in various quarters about the timing of the Union Cabinet’s decision not to release to Punjab its due RDF funds to the tune of more than Rs 1000 crore at the present juncture, amid the controversy and crisis over the Farm Laws. The timing is suspect and points to dubious motivation behind the move, he said, urging the Centre to immediately reconsider and give the state’s dues against RDF while the scrutiny continues, as has been the case in the past.
The funds, as the Centre is well aware, are used for developing critical agriculture marketing infrastructure like construction of roads in the rural areas of the state, marketing yards, said the Chief Minister, adding that failure to release the funds would obstruct the development of villages and could further aggravate the angst of the farmers, who are in a prolonged agitation against the central farm sector legislations.