Agrarian state Punjab likes the MS Swaminathan Commission recommendation about giving farmers 50% profit on the input cost while calculating the minimum support price. But its government doesn’t like the suggestion about stopping free electricity to the agriculture sector.
On the concluding day of the budget session on Wednesday, the Punjab Vidhan Sabha passed a resolution for moving the Centre for the implementation of the commission’s report. Speaking in favour, state agriculture minister Tota Singh said Punjab couldn’t stop free power to farmers, as it was the most popular decision of chief minister Parkash Singh Badal.
“In case farmers didn’t get free power, out debt would have risen to `70,000 crore from the present `35,000 crore,” said Tota to justify the government’s stand, demanding that the Union government should accept the report before the kharif season begins.
Pointing out that the NDA (National Democratic Alliance) government at the Centre had submitted an affidavit in the Supreme Court that it was unable to implement the recommendations, Punjab leader of opposition Sunil Jakhar said satisfying people’s hunger was more important than feeling happy that Punjab was still the food basket of the country. “A farmer who owns 10 acres want his son to become a sewadar in a government department, because agriculture is no longer profitable,” said Jakhar, adding that political parties and leaders wanted not to help farmers but to exploit their issues for political mileage.
Crop insurance scheme sought
He demanded a practical crop insurance scheme for farmers, besides a system of viability gap funding to support the farmers until the Swaminathan Commision recommendations were implemented. The opposition benches also pointed out that price fluctuation had made growing agricultural products such as potato, basmati, cotton, gowar and maize unviable.
Speaking on behalf of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Manoranjan Kalia told the House that the NDA government would implement the recommendations as the financial situation improved. “Instead, it seems that the last UPA government (at the Centre) had no concern for farmers, as it sat on the (national farmers’ commission) report for eight years,” said Kalia.
Congress legislator Rana Gurjeet Singh supported the resolution, saying the previous UPA government had increased the MSP of wheat and paddy by a good amount.
Swaminathan, who played a leading role in India’s Green Revolution, was in Chandigarh recently to receive an honour from Panjab University. It was suggested in the Vidhan Sabha that the Punjab government should call him also to seek suggestions on how to bail out the state’s farmers.
Legality of blue cards being checked: Kairon
On a question raised by Congress legislator Sukhbinder Singh Sarkaria that almost 25% blue cards for the distribution of subsidised food under the atta-dal scheme were illegal, food and civil supplies minister Adaish Partap Singh Kairon told the House that the legality was being checked. “So far, almost 31-lakh cards have been issued and my department is scrutinising the legality of all,” he said. Leader of opposition Sunil Jakhar raised the issue that of the 17,000 cards made in his constituency, Abohar, none was authenticated by the subdivisional magistrate, which was against rules. Many questions related to the food and civil supplies department were listed in the previous days of the Vidhan Sabha session. Congress legislators Harchand Kaur and Aruna Chaudhary had also asked questions related to unscrupulous depot holders in their constituencies.
Next progressive punjab summit in october
71 MoUs signed during Progressive Punjab being processed: Replying to a question by Congress legislator Randeep Singh, industries minister Madan Mohan Mittal replied that of total MoUs signed during the Progressive Punjab summit, 71 were being processed, and an investment of `45,174 crore was expected. He said the summit had cost `2.49 crore and the participating industrialists had been treated as state guests. Deputy CM Sukhbir Singh Badal told the House that the next summit would be in October.
Jakhar seek report on minority scholarships: Leader of opposition Sunil Jakhar asked social welfare minister Gulzar Singh Ranike to tell the House how much money the state had received for the pre- and post-matric scholarships for minority communities, lest the comptroller and auditor general (CAG) accused the government of diverting funds for buying helicopters. The minister replied that till June 28, 2014, `93.93 crore, and till August 28, 2014, another `41.38 crore had been received for the pre-matric scholarships.