A day after Congress national vice-president Rahul Gandhi’s visit to some grain markets in the state on Tuesday, revenue minister Bikram Majithia on Wednesday admitted that the Punjab government is “feeling hurt” due to delay by the Narendra Modi dispensation at the Centre over taking decision on relaxing wheat procurement and compensation norms for Punjab farmers.
Majithia, who also holds the additional portfolio of new and renewable energy, said this on the sidelines of the inauguration of a solar power plant here. His remarks came in the backdrop of the Shiromani Akali Dal-Bharatiya Janata Party (SAD-BJP) government in the state already under fire over a growing glut of wheat in choked grain markets across Punjab.
‘Rahul doesn’t affect us’
“Thank God, Rahul has been found. We all were concerned about him. We do not care about his visit to grain markets. It does not affect us,” said Majithia, after the Gandhi scion showing deep concern over farmers’ issues in Punjab recently. Gandhi also raised the issue of Punjab farmers in the Lok Sabha on Wednesday.
“We cannot say the NDA government is not listening to us. But yes, on the farmers’ issue, Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal has made his stand very clear. We are also feeling hurt. Grievances of Punjab farmers should be addressed. The farmers have made no mistake by doing hard work,” Majithia said while replying to a question whether the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government, of which the SAD is also a part, is not listening to state governments’ demands amid the current crisis at grain markets.
“The Modi government increased the compensation for crop damage. It is a welcome step. But we think it should be increased more. Certain steps are needed to be taken. Modiji is a wise man. He has done a good job on farmers’ issues. As far as relaxation in procurement norms for the wheat affected by untimely rain is concerned, it should be done as soon as possible,” said Majithia.
“We are committed to farmers. We hope the Centre will provide the help soon. Whether the Centre provides help or not, we (state government) are committed to procuring all wheat at the minimum support price (MSP),” said Majithia while addressing farmers during the inauguration function.
‘No industry creating enough jobs’
“In every industry, employment generation is decreasing due to technological advances as compared to the past. But you must see the huge investments being made in Punjab. Around `3,000 crore will be invested in Punjab only on solar power production,” said the minister, when asked as why big investments on oil refinery and thermal power plant at Talwandi Sabo have failed in generating employment for the region in the past five years.”
“You cannot link everything with employment. Investment gives an economic boost in itself. It is not that employment has not increased. If it was zero earlier, now we have something to show,”he added.