Projects in limbo as Punjab awaits Centre funds for agri sector

  • Gurpreet Singh Nibber, Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
  • Updated: Jan 17, 2016 00:18 IST
Already passing through a phase of acute agrarian crisis, no cash flow from the Centre has left the officials high and dry. (HT Photo)

With practically no flow of funds from the Centre this fiscal year (2015-16), major agricultural projects in the state are in a limbo.

“It’s the last quarter of the financial year and the directorate is still waiting for funds,” said officials.

Already passing through a phase of acute agrarian crisis, no cash flow from the Centre has left officials of the state — that is hugely dependent on the central government when it comes to the agricultural expenditure — has left the officials high and dry.

The state government has opposed the Centre’s move to cut down grants for different agriculture projects from 100% to 50-50 ratio in the month of July last year. However, after Punjab’s objection to the move, the Centre agreed to loosen its purse strings and said the allocation would be in the 60-40 ratio.

The Centre allocates funds under Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana (RKVY), National Food Security Mission (NFSM) and Crop Diversification Programme (CDP).

Since 2007-08, the Union government was giving 100% funding to agricultural projects under RKVY and NFSM.

The Centre also gives funds to boost conventional agricultural methods (organic farming).

Director, agriculture department, Punjab, Gurdial Singh says no flow of funds from the Centre has put them in a fix. Also, the state government is yet to decide on its contribution.

The agriculture directorate has reportedly drawn out a proposal for Rs 133 crore for the current year against an expenditure of about `500 crore in the last financial year (2014-15) — a 100% funding by the Centre.

Gurdial Singh said the Centre’s allocation was about Rs 213 crore under the RKVY, Rs 37 crore for crop diversification, about Rs 13 crore for crop diversification and Rs 80 lakh for organic farming.\

“Earlier, the Centre had decided to fund projects in 50:50 ratio. But when our government objected to it, the Union government asked us to treat the sanctioned amount as their 60% share and told the state to contribute rest 40%,” he said, adding that as per the changed fund percentage, the state is required to contribute about Rs 142 crore.

“Unless the state makes its contribution, we can’t give progress report and utilisation certificates. The entire process has come to a standstill,” say senior officers in the department.

They say Punjab has no way out other than accepting Centre’s new proposal for making contribution as other states have by and large okayed the new formula.

Impact on ground

At the ground level, it is very difficult to function in the absence of funds, says agriculture development officer Avninder Singh Mann who is posted in Patiala.

“No funds for the Crop Diversification Programme are demoralising farmers, who want to shift from paddy cultivation,” he says.

Major impact will on the RKVY that deals with mechanisation, soil improvement, new techniques, giving quality seeds, motivating non-wheat growing area to grow wheat, promote cultivation of pulses, giving machines to check paddy stubble burning, supplying weedicides and pesticides at subsidised rates.

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