February 23, 2018 | By Sikh Siyasat Bureau
Chandigarh: For ages Punjab has been known for its ‘riches’ and ‘prosperity’, the state has always been on the forefront to help or donate the needy. But now it seems that the itself state has been reduced to ‘rags’ due to decades of ‘misrule’ and faulty economic polices by both the Central and the state government.
The Vice-chairman of National Institution for Transforming India (NITI) Aayog (Planning Commission) Dr Rajiv Kumar on Thursday reportedly snubbed a delegation lead by Punjab’s finance minister Manpreet Badal for demanding funds for the state and rather 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.
As reported by the media sources, 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 replied, “If the Centre is unwilling to pay the actuals, the FCI can take over the entire procurement process.”
Apparently, the above statement by Dr Rajiv Kumar conveys alot about the attitude of the India’s ruling elite towards Punjab. As the green revolution initiated by the Central government to exploit the resources of Punjab in the 1970’s in order fill their own food stocks has ran out of steam, thus rendering Punjab completely devastated both in economical and ecological terms.
“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”, Dr Kumar said. He further asked Punjab to go in for aggressive diversification, asking its farmers to take to dairy farming and growing cash crops.
Whilst quoting the official sources the media reports said that 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.
During his interaction with The Tribune (TT) Manpreet Badal told that 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.
Moreover, dubbing 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.