Bakala (Punjab): Punjab Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal on Thursday lashed out at the UPA government for not providing drought-relief package to his state which had received deficient rains.

"Because of a weak monsoon, the demand for power and expenses on diesel went up to a "record level" during paddy sowing in the state. The Centre on July 31 announced relief package of about Rs 2,000 crore to various states except Punjab," Badal said at a rally here.

Punjab has already purchased power worth Rs 7,000 crore, which is 10 percent more than last year's peak demand. But a weak monsoon has increased power consumption, putting a load on total electrical system, the chief minister said.

Though Punjab State Power Corporation is trying to procure power available in the market, the demand is overall so acute that power is not available in the open market even at exorbitant rate of Rs 12 per unit.

Badal refuted allegations that states including Punjab were drawing excess power power and said that Northern grid collapsed due to 51 percent over-drawl by Haryana and 29 percent by Uttar Pradesh.

While the input cost of farmers due to diesel and other inputs increased by Rs 8,000 per acre, the Union government "ditched" farmers by announcing "meagre hike" in MSP of paddy, he said.

He said Punjab's farming sector consumes more than 3 percent of the total nation's diesel consumption, which has now reached 8 percent due to unprecedented dependence on diesel pumps.

"Shiromani Akali Dal and its NDA partners would strongly raise this issue in the ensuing Monsoon session of Parliament and pressurise the Centre to do justice with Punjab," he said.

He said that he along with Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal would soon call on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and other ministers to plead for drought-relief and additional allocation of 1,000 MW power from central pool.

Accusing the Congress-led UPA government of denying states their due share in central taxes, Badal said that out of Rs 100 collected as central taxes from Punjab, the Centre was giving only Rs 1.31 as the state's share and that too with pre-conditions.

Badal was also critical of the UPA's inability to check unprecedented price rise of essential commodities, saying it was just because of their wrong economic policies that a common person was burdened with extra taxes.


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