10 yr. plan be formulated for utilising irrigation potential: MP CM

By Pervez Bari, TwoCircles.net 

Bhopal, June 01 : Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan has made a fervent plea for formulating a nationwide loan settlement scheme in order to provide relief to the loan borrowing farmers. He has also put forth a suggestion to reduce the rate of interest on loans obtained by the farmers from the banks, an official Press release said.
    Chouhan was speaking at a meeting of the National Development Council, (NDC), held under the Chairmanship of the Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh in New Delhi today. The state's Finance Minister Raghavji and Minister for Farmers Welfare and Agriculture Development Choudhary Chandrabhan Singh also attended the NDC meeting.
    Speaking further at the NDC meeting the Chief Minister Chouhan pointed out that the number of centrally sponsored schemes which are presently operational in agriculture sector, are unnecessarily too high. In this context, he suggested that the Central Government should allocate lump sum funds finalising an integrated scheme for each state keeping in view its requirements. He also suggested that in order to improve the existing agriculture research set up, each agriculture university located in the states should be provided a lump sum grant of Rs. 100 crore as per the needs of the state.
    The Chief Minister further suggested that to safeguard the interests of farmers in the event of natural calamities and market fluctuations, the agriculture insurance scheme should be drawn up considering the farmer as a unit. He has also sought adequate grant from the Centre for promotion of horticulture activities besides floriculture and farming of medicinal plants in the state.
    Referring to the forestry agriculture, Chouhan said that there exists a ban under the Forest Act on felling down of trees and old orchards grown by the farmers. This should be lifted at once so as to promote agriculture forestry, he demanded. He also suggested to formulate a centrally sponsored scheme for conservation of cattle wealth of the country.
    Putting forth another suggestion at the NDC meeting, the Chief Minister said that the pricing policy of the agricultural products needs to be comprehensively re-examined. Present methodology of estimating costs as adopted by Commissions for Agriculture Costs and Prices, is not only full of error but also discriminatory. He said that tariff commission of India and Bureau of Industrial Cost and Prices have adopted a formula basing on which the cost of agriculture must also be worked out. Minimum investment in agriculture sector should not be less than seven percent national income.
    Referring to the issue of utilisation of irrigation potential, the Chief Minister suggested that a ten year policy should be formulated. For this, half of the amount of the necessary funds which amounts to nearly Rs. four lakh crore. should be provided by the Union Government. This could be mobilised by reducing the government investment in the communication sector to half and by making the subsidy justifiable on fertiliser. He also suggested to bring projects as regard to water shed management and others under the ministry of water resources and to declare the eleventh and twelfth plan as water schemes of India.
    Chouhan further mentioned that whenever the question of key areas concerning irrigation and agriculture crops up, the subject is always neglected by the centre terming it as state subject. However, while taking decisions on allotment priorities in respect of the huge funds collected from the states as taxes, cost of agricultural products, pricing set up and important industries such as sugar factories and export / import, the state governments are often not consulted and taken into confidence.
    He further pointed out that to protect Indian farmers from the unhealthy international competition, the custom duties in India should be at par with all the grants given on agricultural products by the rich countries. (
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