Chandigarh: The Central Government has refused to release the Rural Development Fund immediately, giving a financial blow to the Punjab Government. For Punjab, which is reeling under financial burden, the decision may prove to be a major set back to the new construction and repair projects of rural link roads.

The Punjab government was hopeful of getting Rs 2,880 crore rural development fund from the Centre.

Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution Minister Piyush Goyal has recently sent a letter to Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann, apprising him of this central decision.

The Chief Minister had written to the Union Food Minister on July 23 and October 19, requesting him to release the revised provisional cost sheet, which also includes the Rural Development Fund. The Union minister has now stated in the letter that the matter is being investigated as per departmental rules.

The Union Minister has advised Punjab to reduce the reverse statutory charges. The letter said that reducing these expenses will reduce the subsidy burden on the state exchequer and encourage private companies to buy food grains at higher prices, which will directly benefit the farmers.

Meanwhile, Punjab has not received the rural development fund for the three procurement seasons from the Centre. Even before the recent paddy season, Rs 1,760 crore was pending with the Centre of the Rural Development Fund.

According to the details received, about Rs 1110 crore of rural development funds of Kharif 2021, Rs 650 crore of Rabi 2022 and Rs 1120 crore of the current Kharif crop are pending with the Central Government.

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