Chandigarh, April 5 : Reiterating his full support for the farmers and the arhtiyas, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Monday flayed the BJP-led Central government for encroaching upon the rights of the states in its bid to dominate them.
While castigating it over its one-sided decision to forcibly impose the farm laws and the direct benefit transfer (DBT) on the state’s farming community, he said the states never faced such problems earlier.
Slamming the government of India for trying to destroy the existing relations and systems that had worked well for more than 100 years, in the name of so-called reforms, the Chief Minister said the Centre is trying to impose the farm laws without taking the stakeholders into confidence.
Punjab’s farmers and arhtiyas have age-old cordial ties, which the Centre is hell-bent on damaging, he said, terming the government of India’s tough posturing and ill-conceived decisions as being against the basic spirit of federalism.
He said during his earlier tenure, he enjoyed the full confidence and support of former Prime Minister late Atal Bihari Vajpayee, and subsequently that of Manmohan Singh, in all major policy decisions and development issues related to Punjab.
Virtually launching the two-day Kisan Mela organised by the Punjab Agricultural University (PAU), Ludhiana, the Chief Minister expressed his solidarity with the farmers against the farm laws imposed by the Centre, in violation of the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution, which clearly says that agriculture is a state subject.
The Centre has deliberately impinged upon the state’s power, thus jeopardising the basic structure of democracy, he said.
Amarinder Singh stressed that the Centre should have taken the farmers into confidence before the enactment of these contentious legislations.
“Had the Centre been sincere about finding a workable solution to this problem, it would have either consulted the Punjab government or the state’s farmers, as Punjab alone contributes over 40 per cent of foodgrains to the national pool,” he asserted.
The Chief Minister categorically said that Punjab, which was initially not even a part of the deliberations on the agricultural reforms, was included in the high-powered committee only after he wrote to the Centre.
Resultantly, Punjab Finance Minister Manpreet Singh Badal and the then Agriculture Secretary K.S.Pannu had attended the two meetings held thereafter, but there was no mention of these controversial farm laws at the same, he added.
Pointing out that 144 farmers have died so far during the ongoing farmers’ protest, Amarinder Singh said that his government is giving Rs 5 lakh and a job to the kin of a deceased farmer, while the Centre continues to be insensitive to their pain.
In his address, pointing to the growing problem of scarcity of surface as well as underground water, the Chief Minister urged the farmers to go for drip irrigation in a big way to save the state from becoming a desert in the near future.
The fast depleting water table, resulting from the melting glaciers, is a major challenge for the state and the only solution is to get out of the paddy-wheat cycle to save this precious resource, he said.
He asked the farmers to make optimum use of drip irrigation technology, besides switching over to less water consuming crops like vegetables, fruits, etc.
He further emphasised that efforts should be made to adapt to horticultural crops, which have a global market with chances of enormous profitability.
Acknowledging the immense contribution of PAU stalwarts in agricultural research and introduction of new farm practices, Amarinder Singh said that its former Vice Chancellors like Khem Singh Gill, Kirpal Singh Aulakh and Gulzar Singh Kalkat would be always be remembered by one and all for ushering in the Green Revolution to make India self-reliant in food production.
Emphasising on the need to develop a viable technology for making use of paddy straw for power generation, the Chief Minister said a beginning has already been made in the state with production of briquettes for fuel purpose and establishment of small units for generation of power from paddy straw, but a lot still remains to be done.
Lauding the role of the Guru Arjan Dev Veterinary and Animal Sciences University, Ludhiana, for improving the quality of livestock, the Chief Minister asked the university to intensify its research to develop embryo transfer technology to produce female calves of high quality breed of buffaloes, like Murrah, Sahiwal and Tharparkar cows.