Stop asking for funds: NITI Aayog to Punjab

By 24th February 2018 0 Comments

Chandigarh : In a snub to a Punjab Government delegation, that included Finance Minister Manpreet Badal, NITI Aayog Vice-Chairman Dr Rajiv Kumar today asked the state to work towards “securing the income” of its farmers rather than harping on funds on the plea of being instrumental in maintaining the country’s food security.
Officials present at the meeting told The Tribune the delegation sought that the state be paid Rs 1,800 crore per annum by the Centre as cost for food procurement.

As it asked NITI Aayog to take up the matter of reimbursing actuals, Dr Rajiv Kumar simply said, “You can leave the food security of the country to us.” To this, Manpreet Badal is learnt to have retorted, “If the Centre is unwilling to pay the actuals, the FCI can take over the entire procurement process.”

Uttar Pradesh is now the largest producer of wheat, followed by Punjab and Madhya Pradesh. Also, West Bengal, UP, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana produce more rice than Punjab. Punjab pushed for the C2 formula (input cost plus rent of land) for calculating MSP. This too did not get the desired response. Official sources said Dr Kumar asked Punjab to go in for aggressive diversification, asking its farmers to take to dairy farming and growing cash crops.
Sources said Punjab was not given any assurance on its demands for change in fund-sharing ratio, Border Area Development Fund, Kandi Area Development Fund or Sarv Shiksha Abhiyan. Manpreet Badal told The Tribune the Centre started schemes but changed the funding pattern, and this often resulted in the schemes coming to a halt since states did not have the resources to fund these.
Calling his meeting with the Punjab CM “successful,” Dr Kumar said he had asked the state delegation to identify four or five key areas in which Niti Aayog could lend help. The Finance Minister said the government had sought help in framing policies for agriculture and job generation and for Shahpur-Kandi project, relining the Sirhind and Rajasthan feeder of the Bhakra mainline and access to canal-based drinking water in the wake of the sharp fall in the water table.

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Posted in: Punjab