Equating its role in seeking funds from the Centre to that of "beggars", Punjab today held the Centre accountable for the state of agriculture in India and demanded Rs 2,200 crore to upgrade its canal projects and agriculture university.
"What is there in our hands? We are just like beggars. We keep coming to seek funds (from the Centre)," Punjab Chief Minister Prakash Singh Badal said at an India Today conclave in a reply to a question as to who is responsible for the poor state of agriculture in India -- the states or the Centre.
Holding the Centre accountable for agriculture even though it is considered a state subject, Badal said, in the presence of Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar, that the Union government regulates policies on both inputs and outputs.
"There are two things in agriculture: inputs and outputs. The prices of crops are what the Centre decides (in the form of minimum support prices) and we have to abide by it," he said, adding that even the Centre raises rates of vital inputs like diesel according to its "own will".
The Chief Minister noted the Centre should understand problems of the states that contribute most to the country's reserves and solve them. Punjab and Haryana usually contribute the maximum to the Central food reserves.
Badal said his state needs Rs 1,500-2,000 crore to upgrade its canals, which are a major source of irrigation, and another Rs 200 crore to provide salary to employees of its agriculture university.