Specttrum News: Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal impressed upon the Union Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh to provide Special Central Assistance of Rs 2,330 crore, for combating the deficit monsoon rainfall and prevailing drought like situation in the state. The meeting took place in New Delhi on Tuesday.
The Chief Minister, who called on Radha Mohan Singh, at his office at Krishi Bhawan apprised him that Punjab has always been in the forefront for ensuring food security of the nation and has been contributing about 40-50% of wheat and 30-35% of rice to the Central Pool from the last three decades.
He said that Punjab has experienced 51% deficit rain fall received in various districts upto June 30, 2014 and in order to mitigate effects of deficit rain fall, farmers of Punjab were making strenuous efforts and spending extra money on diesel and other inputs to sustain their Kharif 2014 -15 crops.
Badal said that the hard working and resilient farmers of state were passionate about their crops and go to any extent to save their crops in drought conditions adding that the Punjabi farmers might come under debt but they does not let the productivity of the crops to fall.
The Chief Minister apprised Radha Mohan Singh that the toral area under paddy plantation was 28.13 lakh hectares, which was 40,000 hectares less as compared to last year, due to deficient rainfall.
The Chief Minister apprised Radha Mohan Singh that the farmers, who use diesel run pumps, have to spend more on diesel to run their tube wells increasing their expenditure manifold to mitigate drought. He said that due to the deficit rainfall the total consumption of diesel has increased manifolds which would put an additional burden of Rs 79 crore on the farmers.
Likewise, the Chief Minister informed the Union Agriculture Minister that many of these farmers also require to deepen their tube wells and to convert them from mono block pump-sets to submersible pumps or Tube wells. He said that in the current scenario it was expected that nearly 85,000 tube wells in the state would require further deepening to ensure adequate irrigation water supplies, which was likely to cost about Rs 700 crore.
The Chief Minister further informed Radha Mohan Singh that The State Power Corporation (PSPCL) was not only diverting electricity from paying sectors to non-paying agriculture sector for ensuring uninterrupted power supply to the farmers but it was also purchasing extra power from outside the State, which was likely to incur additional expenditure of Rs 1500 crore in this regard.
He said that this puts extra-ordinary strain on the farmers as well as the State Government besides posing a serious challenge to the critical area of National Food Security to which Punjab has always been the dominant contributor. He said that although, the combined efforts of the farmers and the state Government might result in keeping the level of paddy production somewhere near that of the last year, the effort would drain out almost the entire reservoir of fiscal energy of both.
The Chief Minister also apprised Radha Mohan Singh about the possible repercussions of the drought like situation in providing potable water supply to the people and green fodder to the animals.
Highlighting the issue of quality and quantity of the agriculture credit, the Chief Minister bemoaned that the farmers of the state were already reeling under whopping debt adding that the current drought like situation would further aggrieve the situation.
Badal said that the Government of India (GoI) should either defer the payment of loans for the current season or lower the rate of interest besides examining the possibility of converting short term credit to medium term one. “The interest payable to NABARD on the funds provided to Cooperative banks must be lowered so that banks can pass on the benefit to the farmers” he added.
Flagging up another issue, the Chief Minister said that bonus must be provided to the farmers over and above the MSP should be provide to cotton, maize and paddy to cover the additional cost of production as the MSP was already fixed without taking into account deficiency of rainfall. Likewise, Mr. Badal also urged the Union Minister to provide seeds of alternate crops to the farmers at subsidized rates in case of damage to Kharif crops like paddy, maize, cotton and others.
Responding to the various issues raised by the Chief Minister, Radha Mohan assured him of all support to fight against possible challenges from deficient rains in Punjab. He said that that the Union government would extend all sort of help to the state government to bail out the farmers from current agrarian crisis.
He appreciated the special concern shown by Badal for flagging up the issue of drought like conditions in the state and was the first state to seek such assistance to overcome the extra expenditure borne by the state as well as farmers to sustain their crops, about which he also mentioned today during his speech in Lok Sabha.
The Union Minister further said that the ICAR would expedite the process of setting up of regional Centre of Central Institute of Freshwater Aquaculture (CIFA) to promote fishery in Punjab adding that he would soon dispatch a central team for the inspection of site in state.
He also informed the Chief Minister that he would soon appoint the Director General of Borlaug Institute of Maize to be set up over 500 acres at Ludhiana, so that the institute could be established at the earliest. Mr. Radha Mohan Singh said that he would soon take up the matter of Ministry of Finance for the sanction of special assistance to the state.
The Chief Minister was accompanied by Financial Commissioner Development Mr. Suresh Kumar and his Special Principal Secretary Mr. Gaggandip Singh Brar.