Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann Sunday 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 in New Delhi, recalled that at the time when the country was starving, the hard working and resilient farmers of the state made the country self reliant in food production.
He, however, added that as agriculture is no longer a profitable venture so farmers are facing a serious crisis. 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 CM stressed 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, Mann said that MSP must be remunerative as the input cost of agriculture has enhanced manifold and farmers are not getting right price of their harvest. Outrightly rejecting the committee on MSP constituted by Centre, the CM 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. He 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, Mann 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 are ready to make the country independent in production of pulses. Mann said that the Union must announce MSP for pulses and an assured marketing system for it.
Mann said that while on one hand diversification of crops is urgently needed to take farmers out of the rut of wheat/paddy cycle, saving the depleting ground water level is also needed. He added that of total 150 blocks water level, 117 blocks are in dark zone. Bhagwant Mann solicited support of the Union to check water level by introducing MSP on alternative crops too.
The CM also apprised the NITI Aayog that state government is making efforts to revamp the education structure in state. The CM added that the state has a huge potential for food processing industry and it needs to be tapped. He urged the Union government to allot funds for the promotion of food processing industry in the state. The CM also demanded special allocation of funds for rejuvenation of canal system in the state. He added that it is needed to strengthen and repair the existing canal system in the state.
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He also sought immediate release of funds for the higher education sector. He said that the state government will open 16 new medical colleges in the state thereby taking the total tally of such colleges to 25.
Mann added that the state government wants to decongest big cities by shifting out industrial units. 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. He 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.