Special Correspondent

CHANDIGARH: Punjab has decided to approach the Centre for another loan waiver package for the farm sector as the previous edition benefited hardly one per cent of the farmers across the State. This was disclosed by Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal who was talking to reporters on the sidelines of a State-level function organised to mark the 287th birth anniversary of Maharaja Jassa Singh Ramgarhia in Patiala on Wednesday.

Mr. Badal said the Centre could not ignore the problems of Punjabi farmers who contribute more than 70 per cent grain to the country's food kitty. He said the previous loan waiver was tailored to favour States with larger numbers of MPs and the State government, therefore, has decided to seek a package based on performance and contribution of the farmers.

He said Punjab had already sought a Rs.3500 crore grant to rejuvenate its 100-year-old canal network that was the backbone of the agriculture sector. Responding to a question, Mr. Badal who also holds the Home portfolio said Naxalism and terrorism would not be allowed to find expression in the State. He said Punjab advocates special support from the Union Government for States that could be the potential victims of the Naxal movement. He said Punjab had recently sought Rs.200 crore for modernisation of the State police.

Mr. Badal said the State's sports policy would be finalised after the ongoing deliberations with top professionals. It would seek to identify games that have a major potential at the international level. After kabaddi, he said, the focus was on hockey and other traditional games even as Punjab was all set to introduce district-level competitions in all the games with sizeable prize money as an incentive for the youth.