New Delhi: Punjab Chief Minister Mr. Parkash Singh Badal today forcefully pleaded with the Government of India to continue RKVY as a Central Sector Scheme with 100% funding and the existing sharing pattern of other flagships schemes viz. National Health Mission, National Food Security Mission should also be retained.
These views were expressed by Mr. Badal during a meeting with the Union Agriculture Minister Mr. Radha Mohan Singh here at his office in Krishi Bhawan this afternoon.
Mr. Badal apprised the Union Agriculture Minister that the 14th Finance Commission recommended devolution of 40% of the share of tax. The GoI while accepting this recommendation also identified 20 important centrally sponsored schemes including RKVY, which would now be implemented on sharing basis. Accordingly, the sharing pattern of RKVY was proposed to be changed to 50:50 from 100% centrally funded earlier. The Chief Minister pointed out that Punjab has been tentatively allocated Rs. 168.27 crore under RKVY including 75 crore under Crop Diversification Program (CDP) during this year, the state would now have to contribute Rs. 168.27 crore as its own share. Such a contribution by the state government may not be possible and as a result, not only many of the ongoing projects and initiatives under the schemes would have to be aborted but taking up new projects would also be adversely affected. He said that this retrograde step could be detrimental for agriculture growth in the state.
Flagging up another issue to convert Crop Diversification program to Agriculture Diversification, the Chief Minister impressed upon Mr. Radha Mohan Singh that the state should be allowed to implement Agriculture Diversification program as per their requirements. Now under the prescribed activities and interventions in terms of stipulated norms, 60% funds were meant for demonstration, 23% for machinery, 17% for site specific activities and 2% for contingency and thus allowing states to exercise 20% change from one component to other. Henceforth, Mr. Badal requested the Agriculture Ministry to strengthen and expand this program to cover not only crop diversification but also allied and subsidiary occupations such as Dairy, Fisheries, Piggery, Goatry, Fruit & Vegetables cultivation and Bee-keeping.
Referring to the issue for delay in setting up Borlaug Institute of South Asia (BISA) at Ladhowal, (Ludhiana), the Chief Minister sought Mr. Singh’s immediately intervention to ensure adequate flow of funds from ICAR so that the project could be completed at the earliest without any further delay. He told the Union Agriculture Minister that the state government already provided 200 hectares of prime land free of cost for this purpose and the ICAR had agreed to provide Rs. 96 crore meaning there by Rs. 24 crore each for four years. Only one installment of Rs. 24 crore has been released till date.
Envisaging Union Agriculture Ministry’s fulsome support to accomplish the prestigious Post Graduate Institute of Horticultural Research and Education (PGIHRE) at Amritsar in time so as to give fillip to the state’s ambitious program of Agriculture diversification, the Chief Minister requested Mr. Radha Mohan Singh to get the civil work started forthwith. Mr. Badal informed him that the state government had already given 100 acres land at Attari for research farm, 7 acre in city for campus and 50 acre at Abohar for research farm for kinnow.
In a bid to promote fish culture in Punjab, the Chief Minister urged Mr. Singh to expedite the proposal for setting up of Regional Research Centre (RRC) at village Jodhpur Romana in Bathinda district at a cost of Rs. 21.10 crore under the auspices of Central Institute of Freshwater Aquaculture (CIFA), Bhubaneshwar. He also requested the Ministry to immediately provide funds to CIFA for the execution of these funds. Likewise, he also impressed upon Mr. Singh to immediately sanction the ‘Mission mode project for saline affected and waterlogged area of south-western districts of Punjab’ amounting to Rs. 110 crore which has already been submitted to GoI besides releasing first installment of Rs. 33 crore to enable the state to implement this project thereby improving the economy and livelihood of the people in the water logged areas.
The Chief Minister also requested for early clearance of Kamdhenu project at a cost of Rs. 27 crore for the development of Indigenous breeds of cows like Sahiwal, Red Sindhi, Tharparker, Gir etc as 80 acres of land had already been identified near Patiala for this project.
Summing up the discussions, Mr. Radha Mohan Singh assured the Chief Minister that he would soon take up the issue with the Ministry of Finance to retain the previous pattern of 100% funding of RKVY. Mr. Singh also assured that he would soon look into the matter of allotting Kamdhenu project to the state on priority in the near future. However, he asked Mr. Badal to send a detailed proposal for establishing ‘Gau Grams’ under Gokal Mission. He also agreed to immediately release funds for establishing RRC at village Jodhpur Romana in Bathinda district and for Mission mode for Fisheries in water logged areas of the state.
The Chief Minister was accompanied by his Special Principal Secretary Mr. KJS Cheema, Financial Commissioner Animal Husbandry Mr. G. Vajralingam and Agriculture Commissioner Dr. BS Sidhu.