Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Saturday urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to ensure that the farmers’ protest against the agriculture laws is urgently resolved, reported PTI.
A state government released said that Singh also expressed concerns about the threat to Punjab’s agriculture sector, resulting from the “disruptions caused by the three new farm laws”. Singh, who was unwell and could not attend the meeting, made the statements in a pre-recorded message at the sixth meeting of the governing council of planning body, NITI Aayog.
The chief minister reiterated his government’s stance that agriculture is a state subject and law-making for it should be left to the states in the true spirit of “cooperative federalism”. He asserted that any reform in a sector affecting almost 60% of the country’s workforce should be brought only through an extensive consultation process with all the stakeholders, of which Punjab is a key member.
Singh also raised the apprehension among farmers that the minimum support price-based procurement through Food Corporation of India may be discontinued in view of the Shanta Kumar Committee Report of 2015. He said that the Centre should decisively dispel any such impression “to instil proper confidence in the farmers of the state”.
The chief minister also requested the Centre to release the state’s pending Goods and Services Tax compensation, amounting to Rs 8,253 crore for the period between April 2020 and January 2021. He also proposed that states should be consulted when deciding the priority list for the coronavirus vaccination.
When asked about Singh’s statement, NITI Aayog Vice Chairman Rajiv Kumar, however, said that there was no discussion on the farm laws or any demand for their repeal during the meeting, reported News18.
Meanwhile, Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar sought the Centre’s intervention in resolving the Sutlej-Yamuna link canal and Hansi-Butana link canal disputes. Khattar said that several areas of the state have fallen in the dark zone category because of depleting groundwater levels. He said that if the link canal matters are resolved, the problem of water scarcity in Haryana will be addressed.
Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy reiterated that the Centre was obliged to grant Special Category Status to the state on the basis of the commitment given in Parliament as a precondition to the bifurcation of the state, reported The Hindu. Reddy said that despite his government’s commitment to providing a business-friendly environment, industrialisation has not gained the required growth momentum because of several constraints resulting from the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh. The state was bifurcated into Andhra Pradesh and Telangana in 2014.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said that India needs to focus on becoming the manufacturing hub of the world, reported the Hindustan Times. Kejriwal said that the sector has not been given enough importance in the last 70 years and the country needs to work in that direction.
At a press conference after the meeting, NITI Aayog vice chairman said that Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has asked for a special port in Odisha for their cargo transportation – a demand that was backed by Jharkhand, which also required the same, reported ANI.
Kumar said that six things were in focus during the meeting – making India a manufacturing powerhouse, reimagining agriculture, improving physical infrastructure, accelerating human resource development, service delivery at grassroots level and health and nutrition.
Earlier, Modi, who chaired the meeting, said that government policies would be aimed towards raising productivity and cutting down on imports in the farm sector. He claimed that the Centre’s holistic approach towards agriculture, animal husbandry and fishing was the reason behind the sector registering growth even amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The NITI Aayog meeting also witnessed the entry of Ladakh for the first time, in addition to the participation of Jammu and Kashmir as a Union Territory and not a state.