Badal for special session of NDC on SC/BC issues

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Chandigarh, Dec 19 (UNI) Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal today called for a Special Session of the National Development Council (NDC) to focus attention and find solutions to the problems of the Scheduled Castes, Backward Classes and other weaker sections of society.

The Chief Minister also called for a "special package" to help the beleaguered peasantry in Punjab, especially with respect to farm indebtedness.

"While the farmer is crushed under heavy debt, it is time for the country to acknowledge to come to the aid of the farmer by treating his debt as a national obligation," Mr Badal while addressing the 54th session of the NDC at Vigyan Bhawan in Delhi today.

The Chief Minister asked the Center to heed the long pending demand of Punjab for the setting of an Indian Institute of Management (IIM), Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) and an Indian Institute of Information Technology (IIIT) in the state.

Laying special emphasis on education, he said, "There is a need to provide quality education to the poor people. The proposal of the State Government to open one Adarsh School in every block in the State has been adopted by the Planning Commission".

The proposal of the Planning Commission also to open model schools in all the 6000 blocks in the country was a welcome step but this number is inadequate, he said while proposing that such three such schools should be opened in every block of the country.

While pointing out that the country had achieved a growth rate of nine per cent, he pointed out that benefits of this growth were yet to reach the poor and the disadvantaged sections of society and this posed a new challenge to the policy makers in the country.

About one-third population in the country still lived below the poverty line, he added.

The growth strategy must also focus at reducing disparities among regions, among states, and between the rural and the urban, thus making the people of India partners in the march towards progress, he suggested. "New challenges have emerged, the critical prerequisite of inclusive growth to carry the "Other India" along with the fast growing India," he said.

Mr Badal said that Punjab deserved a special dispensation to help the SC/BC population. Even though the SC population in the state constitutes 28.85 per cent of the total population, which is highest in the country, still no weightage is given by the Planning Commission in the allocation of funds through various windows to the SC population in the state.

"The percentage of SC population may be included as one of the criteria governing transfer of funds from the centre to the states," he opined.

Mr Badal also asked the Centre to revise the norms and criteria for identification of the Below Poverty Line (BPL) families in the country. He also demanded a fresh survey to prepare authentic data on the subject.

"At present, BPL families are defined in minimalist terms and vast sections of the suffering poor are left out of the ambit of the scheme," he added.

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