PM Narendra Modi backs agri reforms, Punjab CM Amarinder Singh bats for farmers
Punjab CM Amarinder Singh said legislation on agriculture, which is a state subject, should remain in the domain of the state governments.
NEW DELHI/CHANDIGARH: The Sixth Niti Aayog Governing Council meeting saw PM Narendra Modi make a strong case for the agricultural reforms saying they were necessary for transformation of the sector.
Unlimited opportunities awaited the farmers, the PM stressed, adding that necessary investment in infrastructure and modernisation would be the key to realise the potential.
“We spend about Rs 65,000 crore in the import of edible oils which can easily go to our farmers. In pulses, we used to spend much in import, but the policy steps ensured that the farmers now meet the demand. The result of a number of steps is evident in the rise of export of agricultural produce even during Covid-19 pandemic,” said the Prime Minister.
He argued that export of processed food can give multifold income to farmers for which necessary infrastructure along with modernisation would be essential. The PM in his remarks, which were endorsed by a number of CMs, also called for “agro-climatic regional planning”.
While PM’s forceful assertions in favour of the agri reforms received support from Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, who said procurement of paddy had gone in up in the state substantially — from 20 lakh metric tonne earlier to over 30 lakh metric tonne after scrapping the APMC mandis in 2006 — his Punjab counterpart Amarinder Singh expressed serious concern over the threat to the agriculture sector as a result of the disruption caused by the farm agitation and sought immediate resolution of grievances of the farmers.
Amarinder said legislation on agriculture, which is a state subject, should remain in the domain of the state governments.
Since the farm laws impacted a large part of the population, a larger consultation was required, he added, and asserted that the Centre should address the grievances of the farmers to their full satisfaction.
Amarinder called upon the PM to dispel the apprehension of the farmers that the MSP-based procurement may be discontinued in line with the Shanta Kumar Committee recommendations of 2015.
Amarinder reiterated the state government’s demand for bonus of Rs 100 per quintal of paddy procured as ‘paddy straw management compensation’, which can be used for purchase or rental of new equipment, attaining the skills for efficient use, and to reduce cost of operation and maintenance.
Consult us on vaccine targets first: Punjab
Punjab CM Amarinder Singh urged the Centre to consult with the state before fixing priorities for COVID-19 vaccination. He also requested the Centre to release the pending amount of GST compensation of Rs 8,253 crore for the period of April 2020-January 2021.
He requested the Centre to allow 100 per cent use of SDRF towards expenditure for COVID management, instead of the present ceiling of 50 per cent. In the event of SDRF budget exceeding due to Covid-related matters, the state may also be allowed to utilise previous years available funds, he suggested.
Haryana seeks help to resolve SYL logjam
Haryana sought the Centre’s intervention in resolving the long pending issue of Sutlej Yamuna Link and Hansi-Butana Link Canal so that it could get legitimate share of river water. This, Chief Minister M L Khattar said, would solve Haryana’s water woes.
Many areas is becoming “dark zone” due to water shortage, he added. Haryana is at the forefront of GST collection but despite that the state gets only 20 percent GST due to Input Tax Credit, he said. Khattar urged the Prime Minister to formulate a plan for incentivizing the states having the maximum GST collection.
Special status for Bihar must: Nitish
Bihar CM Nitish Kumar again sought special status for his state at the Sixth Governing Council Meeting of NITI Aayog. Bihar being a landlocked state needs to accelerate industrial growth with the support from the Centre, he said.
Nitish also raised an old demand being made from 2011 for a harbour in neighbouring seafacing Odisha. “If the harbour facility is developed in Odisha, this will help Bihar to a great extent...” He also expressed the need of promoting ethanol production from sugarcane in the state to reduce dependence on diesel and petrol as fuels.