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June, 2008




The Punjab Government today followed up the Chief Minster Mr. Parkash Singh Badal's categorical declaration about not disturbing the status of reserved seats in the Panchayats elections by issuing fresh orders on the election of the Sarpanches of the village Panchayats with regard to the reservation of posts for scheduled castes and women panches, Media Advisor to the Chief Minister Mr. Harcharan Bains said here today.

Under the fresh instructions, there will be no change allowed in a reserved panchayats where the post of a Sarpanch is reserved for Scheduled Caste (SC) woman and a SC woman panch refuses to contest elections. The post cannot be offered to another SC candidate or another woman candidate. Similarly, there will be no change in status of a reserved seat even if someone belonging to SC sarpanch and a SC panch refuses to contest elections. These seats will remain strictly for reserved categories under all circumstances. Thirdly, in case the post of sarpanch is reserved for a woman panch and a woman panch refuses to contest elections, the post can not be declared open for all other panch candidates.

A circular had already been issued to all the Deputy Commissioner-cum-District Electoral Officer for strict compliance of these instructions, added Mr.Bains

Start agricultural development fund'


Punjab Chief Minister Mr. Parkash Singh Badal today urged the Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh to immediately announces a bonus of Rs. 100/- per quintal of wheat procurement to partly offset the potential loss suffered by farmers of Punjab for not being allowed to export their marketable surplus.

In a letter to the Prime Minister, Mr. Badal said that the need to sustain and increase domestic food grain production levels and boost farmers' morale could never be over-emphasized given the strong possibility that international prices were unlikely to register any significant fall in the next few years.

Mr. Badal assured the Prime Minister that in case the Government of India came forward to assist the State and recognized the contribution of its beleaguered farmers at this juncture, "an equally vigorous and enthusiastic response from the farmers of Punjab would ensure enhanced food grain production to offset the volatility of the international market and to preserve the nation's food and nutrition security".

The Chief Minister reminded Dr. Singh that Punjab had once again risen to the nation's call though a record procurement of wheat in the country. Till date, a record 105 lakh MT wheat had been procured in the State. "This comes at a most crucial time for the country as serious questions were being raised in public regarding the country's food security following steep escalation in international prices of food grain in general and of wheat in particular. We had substantially surpassed the target of 80 lakh MT that the Union Food & Agriculture Minister had set for Punjab as against the last year's procurement of 67.81 lakh MT" mentioned Mr. Badal.

The Chief Minister highlighted the importance of sustaining high domestic food grain production at this juncture which could be illustrated through these simple statistics. The country, he said, spent about Rs. 8000 crore on import of 73 lakh MT wheat during the last two years and the price of wheat had nearly doubled in the international market since then. "In case the country were to import 30 lakh MT of wheat in the current year, it would cost the national exchequer around Rs. 5800 crore. By ensuring substantially higher procurement of over 30 lakh MT this year, Punjab had saved the country this additional cost. However, in the process, Punjab farmers have lost a possible Rs.. 4800 crore, the differential of 100 lakh MT in the buoyant international market. The international price of wheat was about Rs. 15000 per MT against the procurement price of Rs.10,000 per MT," said the Chief Minister quoting Government of India data.

Mr. Badal said that it was against this backdrop of high international food grain prices and concomitant need to augment food grain production in the country that he sought to focus the Center's attention on the urgent need for the Union Government to provide more substantial budgetary support to the State's agricultural infrastructure.

The Chief Minster pointed out that the State was facing severe problems in the farm sector like alarming depletion of ground water with 112 out of 141 blocks being declared as "dark zones", depletion of soil productivity and other environmental problems, agricultural indebtedness and falling real farm incomes and dilapidated canal irrigation system working at sub-optimal levels.. All this was on account of the intensive farming regime. "Our success in the farming sector was on account of substantial public investment made by the State Government from time to time in agricultural research and extension, irrigation and power. However, these old assets were in dire need of renewal, remodeling, up-gradation and expansion for which we have been repeatedly requesting Central Government's assistance. This was necessary if we have to sustain and enhance our agricultural production," he said.

Mr. Badal put forth some suggestions for the consideration of the Union Government to mitigate the problems plaguing our farm sector. " First, it is imperative to consider the State's demand for creation of an Agricultural Development Fund (ADF), an issue that had also articulated before the National Development Council in its 54th meeting by me in December 2007. The Fund was proposed to be raised through payment of Rs. 100 for every quintal of food-grain procured which would be used for rejuvenation of agricultural and irrigation infrastructure as well as for funding research and extension activities in the respective States. Our State needed Rs. 3200 crore to remodel and rejuvenate its old canal irrigation system that services only 27% of the State's irrigated area, he said, adding that the remaining 97% of the total cultivable area was under tube well irrigation.

The Chief Minister said that Rs.3200 crore required by the State, Rs. 1700 crore are needed for remodeling of the existing canal network and Rs. 950 crore for lining of Sirhind Feeder and Rajasthan Canal and for other anti-water-logging operations. Likewise, Rs.3500 crore is required in the power sector for up gradation of the State's transmission and distribution system in rural areas, which in this present mode was causing substantial losses on this account.

The Chief Minister reiterated that both these inputs were critical for the success of agricultural production system. The proposed ADF would help to ensure a steady financial input to facilitate the State to undertake these planned projects.

Punjab farmers to be the worst hit : CM writes to PM


The Punjab Chief Minister, Mr. Parkash Singh Badal today asked the Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh "to roll back the steep and unbearable" hike in fuel prices announced by Government of India the other day. " This exorbitant hike comes at a time when our economy is already beginning to choke under the severe impact of inflationary pressures. The decision would break the back of the poor and the middle classes in general and the farmers in particular, " the Chief Minister pointed out.

In his letter to Dr. Singh today, Mr. Badal said. "The combined effect of all these factors would be to increase inflationary pressures, slow down the pace of growth and development and increase the general cost of living for the common man," said Mr. Badal

Releasing the contents of the letter to newsmen this evening, CM's Media Advisor Mr. Harcharn Bains said that Mr. Badal was also likely top press for this in a meeting he proposes to have with the Prime Minister on the issue.

In his letter the Chief Minister said that he had been "anguished" by the decision of the Union Government especially as it came at a time when the prices of the all essential goods 'had already shot through the roof and inflation was spiralling out of control, threatening to break the dreaded 9% barrier'.

Expressing grave concern over the fall-out of this decision on the economic health of states, Mr. Badal said, "The negative economic spin-off of the decision would seriously affect developmental activity in states by causing sudden and unbearable price escalation in project costs which, in turn, would slow down growth-rate and push up the rate of inflation."

The Chief Minister also pointed out that the worst-hit as a result of this hike would be the farmers of Punjab who would face the double-menace of rise in the costs of agricultural production as well as in the general cost of living. "Farm production would become its first casualty, putting a question mark over the country's food security," said Mr. Badal, adding that this would badly hit both the producers and the consumers of food grain in the country. Diesel, he said, was a major input in farm operations. In addition to that, the hike was also certain to impact prices of fertilizers, pesticides etc.

The Chief Minister said that the untimely decision would result in the over all slow-down of the economy in the country in general, especially in states like Punjab. "Trade and Industry in Punjab, which were already facing severe constraints as a result of the Government of India's refusal to extend to the State the same concessions which were given to its neighboring states, would suffer a further blow. The impact of the hike on these two sectors, along with the Transport Sector, was certain to be felt in almost every sphere of economic activity" said Mr. Badal.


Chandigarh June 6, 2008

Two Agriculture officers Mr. Surjit Singh and Mr. Inderjit Singh posted at Jalandhar District were suspended due to dereliction of duty .

Giving this information Agriculture Minister Punjab Mr. Sucha Singh Langah said that both the officers went to village Cheema near Kartarpur in district Jalandhar to plough the fields of Rattan Singh farmer who planted 10 acres of paddy before June 10.

Besides getting the paddy fields tilled the officers just clicked the photograph with the tractor ploughing the fields and gave false news in the papers that they had ploughed the fields.
Mr. Langah said that the Chief Agriculutrue officer Punjab visited the village cheema and found that not even a single acre was tilled.

On the recommendation of Chief Agriculture officer both the erring officers were suspended.





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