PRIME MINISTER Dr Manmohan Singh has hinted at a debt relief package for farmers, saying that the central government would soon come up with "concrete solutions" to their debts.
Addressing a public meeting after inaugurating the Chandigarh-Morinda railway line, which connects Punjab to its capital, the Prime Minister said an expert group would suggest solutions to the farmers' issue within a few months. But he made no announcements. The prime minister's speech was restricted to the achievements of the Railways department and the UPA's contribution in improving Punjab's infrastructure .
Besides the Chandigarh-Morinda DMU, the prime minister also flagged off the Amritsar-Haridwar Jan Shatabdi and laid the foundation stone of the Rs 22,000 crore Railway’s Dedicated Freight Corridor project connecting Kolkata and Mumbai to Delhi.
Admitting that a lot still needed to be done to improve the condition of the marginal farmers, Singh said his government had been working to usher in a second green revolution in Punjab.
Inaugurating an agricultural research and development centre at Ladhowal, promoted by the Bharti Group and Rothschild, the prime minister also asked the corporate sector to play a key role in enhancing farm productivity and assist in diversification.
He suggested a “marriage of entrepreneurship and modern technology” in the farm sector so as to multiply wealth.Singh also advised Punjab’s farmers to diversify into horticulture, it allowed much better returns. He said new varieties of crops would have to be developed, while mentioning that farmers could now get agricultural loans at the 7 per cent per annum.
But the prime minister maintained that Punjab’s future depended on more industries and knowledge centres. To promote it, the Amarinder Singh-led Congress government had upon improving the state’s infrastructure, he said.