Punjab Finance Minister Harpal Singh Cheema on Saturday said the state government will withdraw its petition in the Supreme Court on the pending rural development fund (RDF) if the governor gets it released from the Centre.
Cheema was responding to Governor Banwarilal Purohit's letter to Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann on Friday in which he had stated it would be appropriate to wait for the decision of the Supreme Court on the state government's plea.
Chief Minister Mann, in a letter on Thursday, had asked the governor to take up the issue of the pending RDF worth Rs 5,637.40 crore with the president and the prime minister.
The state government had moved the Supreme Court in July on the RDF issue.
On the governor's statement that the state's debt rose by Rs 50,000 crore under the AAP dispensation, Cheema asked him not to talk about debt as it was inherited from previous governments.
Responding to the governor's response on the RDF issue, the finance minister said the Punjab government had written letters to the central government several times for the fund's release.
"Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann himself met the Union minister and demanded this. But because of no response from the central government, the Punjab government was forced to approach the Supreme Court," he said.
Cheema also reminded the governor that the state government even had to go to the Supreme Court for calling the budget session of the assembly.
"If the governor talks to the central government and gets the RDF, then the Punjab government will withdraw its petition from the Supreme Court," he said.
Cheema claimed that there is a lot of hindrance in the development work in the rural areas of Punjab because the central government was not releasing this fund for some years now.
"If the governor is really concerned about Punjab, then he should fulfil his duty towards the state and talk to the central government and help the Punjab government get the pending amount of RDF," he said.
On the debt issue, Cheema said the AAP dispensation "inherited a debt of Rs 3 lakh crore from the previous Akali-BJP and Congress governments."
Cheema said the state government has to pay thousands of crore of rupees as interest on the debt of about Rs 3 lakh crore left behind by the previous governments.
"Despite repaying the loan installment and interest, the AAP government is doing very good work for the welfare of the people of Punjab, Cheema said in a statement.
The governor in his Friday missive to the CM had said that he has learnt that the debt of Punjab rose by about Rs 50,000 crore during your regime.
Details of utilisation of this huge amount may be furnished so that I will be able to convince the prime minister that money has been properly utilised, the governor wrote.
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