Bathinda: Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal on Saturday sought from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, constitution of an expert committee to put the state back on growth track.

"I want that a committee comprising 3 to 4 members should be constituted which will give recommendations to put Punjab again on growth trajectory. This committee should also look into whether any discrimination was committed with the state," Badal said while addressing a gathering in which the Prime Minister was also sharing the dais.

Badal was speaking during the the inaugural ceremony of HPCL-Mittal Energy promoted 9 million tonne per annum oil refinery here.

Making the request before the PM who inaugurated the Rs 21,500 crore Guru Gobind Singh Refinery, Badal pitched for an economic package for Punjab on the lines given to hilly areas.

He also sought fixation of Minimum Support Price for food grain crops based on the recommendation of agri- scientist M S Swaminathan, besides a moratorium on state debt repayments.

"The situation of our farmers, who have been feeding the country, is such that they have been reeling under Rs 30,000 crore of debt. Now farming is no longer a profitable venture for the farmers as the agriculture has reached its plateau," he said.

Emphasising on the need to raise the income of farmers, Badal warned if farmers of Punjab were not protected, it would result in a big loss to the nation.

"We just want that the income (MSP) of farmers should be fixed as suggested by M S Swaminathan," he said.

The Swaminathan committee has recommended that 50 per cent of input costs should be added to the MSP.
KSRBadal also pointed out that state industry had been hit hard because of economic packages given to neighbouring states like Himachal Pradesh as several big industries from the state shifted to other states.

"I request you to give concession (economic incentives) to industry located in bordering areas of Punjab in order to provide impetus to state industry," he said.

Referring to the staggering debt, the Punjab Chief Minister said the moratorium on debt repayment should also be given to his state.

The 13th Finance Commission has identified three debt-stressed states including Punjab and a committee has been constituted to give suggestions to tackle their mounting debt problem.

Badal said Punjab was facing difficulty in getting funds from the Centre for development projects.

Among other demands, Badal also sought from the Prime Minister a centrally sponsored medical care facility for Punjab.

He also favoured an increase in the number of trade items that pass through Attari-Wagah land route.

"Prime Minister Manmohan Singh always took keen interest in removing any sort of bottleneck in the setting up of the refinery," he said.

The Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal also thanked former Prime Minister A B Vajpayee who had approved the setting up of the oil refinery here.

Badal said the commissioning of ambitious oil refinery would give a big boost to the state economy, besides providing direct employment to 20,000 people.

"Now with setting up of Guru Gobind Singh Refinery, petroleum products like diesel and petrol can be supplied from Punjab to other states like the way wheat and rice are being moved from the state to other states," he added.