New Delhi : Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann today vehemently presented the case of food growers of the state by underlining the need for making Minimum Support Price (MSP) a legal guarantee and ensuring foolproof marketing system for alternative crops.
The Chief Minister, while addressing the national council meeting of Niti Aayog chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi here today, recalled that at the time when country was starving for food, the hard working and resilient farmers of the state had made country self reliant in food production. However, he said that as agriculture is no longer a profitable venture so the farmers are facing a serious crisis. Bhagwant Mann said that all out efforts must be made to bail out the farmers from this situation for which the Union government must step in.
The Chief Minister underscored the need for making MSP on the crops a legal guarantee. He said that it is the need of hour so that interests of farmers can be safeguarded. Likewise, Bhagwant Mann said that the MSP must be remunerative as the input cost of agriculture have enhanced manifolds and farmers are not getting right price of their harvest.
Outrightly rejecting the committee on MSP constituted by the Government of India, the Chief Minister demanded that it should be reconstituted with ‘real farmers’ as its members. He said that the committee is dominated by those arm chair economists who don’t have any knowledge about agriculture. Bhagwant Mann said that experts of agriculture along with all the stakeholders must be made members of this committee.
Expressing concern over the import of pulses in country on exorbitant prices, the Chief Minister said that this drain of country’s wealth needs to be checked and Punjab can play an important role in it. He said that the farmers of the state are ready to make country self relevant in production of pulses. However, Bhagwant Mann said that the Union government must announce MSP for pulses and assured marketing system for it.
Likewise, the Chief Minister said that diversification of crops is urgently needed to take farmers out of rut of wheat/ paddy cycle on one hand and to save the depleting ground water level on the other. He bemoaned that out of total 150 blocks water level in 117 blocks is in dark zone. Bhagwant Mann solicited support of Union government to check water level by introducing MSP on alternative crops too.
The Chief Minister also apprised the Niti Aayog that state government is making strenuous efforts to revamp education structure in state. He said that right now the education system is in shambles in the state due to which a lot of work needs to be done. Bhagwant Mann said that the top most priority of his government is to ensure quality and accessible education to students especially the girls.
Making a solid case for promotion of food processing industry in the state, the Chief Minister said that it has a huge potential in the state which needs to be tapped. He said that the Union government must generously allot funds to state for promotion of food processing industry. Bhagwant Mann said that litchi of Pathankot, kinnows of Hoshiarpur and Abohar besides Potatoes of Jalandhar are world acclaimed for their quality and taste adding that through promotion of food processing industry, fortunes of farmers can be transformed.
Flagging another issue, the Chief Minister also demanded special allocation of funds for rejuvenation of canal system in the state. He said that it is need of hour to strengthen and repair the existing canal system in the state. Bhagwant Mann said that the canals constructed in both pre and post independence era needs to be strengthened and upgraded for which the Union government must allocate special package to the state.
The Chief Minister also sought immediate release of funds for the higher education sector in the state. He said that the state government will open 16 new medical colleges in state thereby taking the total tally of such colleges to 25 in the state. Bhagwant Mann said that the union government must generously support the state government for this cause.
On the issue of urban development, the Chief Minister said that the state government aims to decongest the big cities by shifting industrial units out of it. He said that a detailed plan is being chalked out for this purpose. Bhagwant Mann urged the union government to support the state government as it will give major fillip to industrialisation and create new job opportunities in the state.
Training his guns against the former Chief Ministers of the state, the Chief Minister said that none his predecessors bothered to attend this meeting in last three years resulting in a Colossus loss of the state. Bhagwant Mann said that none of them came to attend the meeting and just wrote letters which were of no use. He said that these leaders remained confined in their own palaces and ignored the interests of the state. “However today I have duly used this platform for raising the issues being faced by state and I am hopeful that the Government of India will pay heed towards resolving them” he added.