Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal urged the central government to accord top priority to the agriculture sector in the formulation of national plans.
Participating in the first meeting of the newly constituted NITI Aayog’s governing council which was presided over by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Parkash Singh Badal advocated policies which would make agriculture a profitable venture as it has become non-viable on account of rising input costs.
He pitched for continuation of procurement at MSP by the Food Corporation of India (FCI) till a viable alternative is put in place. Badal’s apprehension on the issue is in the backdrop of reports of the high-powered committee constituted by the Union government recommending withdrawal of MSP and procurement by FCI. He suggested adequate funding, fiscal and operational autonomy to the states.
He also pitched in for a “Border Mala” project for bordering states on the line of “Sagar Mala” project for coastal states. This would give boost to the border states, including Punjab, which are landlocked.
He reiterated that trade to Pakistan from the Attari-Wagah border be brought on a par with Mumbai-Karachi port. He also raised the demand to open other trade routes to Pakistan through Hussainiwalla and Fazilka borders.
He demanded that the Industrial Corridor and Dedicated Freight Corridor be extended up to Amritsar (Attari border).
He urged the Centre to ensure level-playing field in Punjab to give fillip to industrialisation. To this effect, he made out a case for compensation to the state for having suffered due to incentives given to the neighbouring hill states, which resulted in the flight of industry from Punjab, he added.
He urged that all skill development initiatives should be brought under the Union Ministry of Skill Development.