Gujarat Chief Minister Shri Narendra Modi vehemently criticized the UPA Government for failing to curb inflation in the Conference of Chief Ministers on Prices of Essential Commodities held in New Delhi under the Chairmanship of Prime Minister of India.
Gujarat CM said that he was surprised that the issue of inflation is a national importance, however Government of India, instead of adopting an integrated and holistic approach could not rise on the need of the hour with united voice and collective vision. The long awaited meeting convened by GOI should be an opportunity to convince the people of India that Government of India was all serious to control price rise and with proactive approach shown by state governments will evolve comprehensive and effective action plan in short, medium and long terms to address price issues of food security and inflation, but it was miserably failure, Shri Narendra Modi said that prices of essential commodities have increased all time high and touched the sky and it is not only limited to BPL strata of society but even high rise prices of cattle feed has adversely affected the animals. Still GOI’s unholistic approach has unfortunately failed to create any confidence in the people.
Referring to Planning Commission's report, Shri Modi said that 10% of food grains get wasted every year. These are preventable post harvest losses of food grains estimated about 20 million tonnes annually. Similarly, about 30 % of farm produce is stored under open conditions leading to wastage and distress sale. Government of India is really concerned that such food grains getting rotted and wasted could have been provided to the poor and needy people of this country? Has the Ministry of Finance taken any initiatives for development of agriculture infrastructure on a large scale and allocated fund for any such programme? He wanted to know from GOI and said that proper planning is required for preventing post harvest losses of farm production. The Centre has failed to keep its promise of controlling inflation.
Gujarat CM made a suggestion for PDS reforms. He said that GOI should set up a special task force with maximum use of technology and GPS system for strengthening Public Distribution System to ensure supply and distribution of food grains and essential commodities at the doorstep of consumers from the godowns. He added that Government of Gujarat has implemented an innovative initiative to transform Fair Price Shops into Village Shopping Malls making FPS network more viable.
Discussing on wasteland development for increasing agriculture production, Shri Narendra Modi suggested that GOI should undertake development of large tracts of waste land in the Private Public Partnership mode. He also mentioned that Gujarat is the first State of the country to get 21 rivers into a grid and start grid-cum-canal network successfully to become a role model for national approach for interlinking of rivers. GOI should take lead in implementing such an initiative across the country, he suggested. He lamented Central Government’s indecisiveness on the permission for construction of gates on Narmada Dam, which is only last phase of Sardar Sarovar Project.
Chief Minister of Gujarat reminded UPA Government as to what have they done to fulfil the promises given to poor masses and BPL families? In election manifesto UPA Government had promised food grains to poor family card holders at the rates of Rs.3/- per kg. Even not a singleCommunity Kitchen Centre for urban poor has been started in any of the big cities.
Regarding steps taken to prevent hoarding of essential commodities and enforcement proceedings under provision of EC&PBM Acts, he categorically said that while non-UPA ruled states carried out 83% raids and inspections to curb the hoardings, only 17% inspections done by UPA ruled state governments. What does this suggest? he asked.
Suggesting that the Government of India should come out with specific formula of BPL families, he demanded that there are various survey reports of number of BPL families but GOI, trying to reduce its commitment to supply food grains entitled by law to poor families at Rs.3/- per kg., is insisting on lower number of BPL. If it is serious,GOI should make a common number of BPL from various recommendations.
Stressing for agricultural infrastructure development with holistic support of water management and river grid network, Shri Narendra Modi said that farmers should be provided inputs as seeds and fertilizers at reasonable prices and chain of warehouses and cold storage to store and preserve farm produce with adequate market arrangement.
Shri Modi gave an example of Gujarat Government and said that his Government has devised such a coordinated approach for improving the agriculture and it has therefore transformed itself from a semi-arid region to one achieving very high growth rate of agriculture production. Gujarat took major initiatives for conserving water and making its most efficient use through drip irrigation and sprinkler irrigation. Gujarat Government’s efforts have helped in creating lakhs of water harvesting structures such as check dams, bori-bounds and farm ponds. Coupled with this, Gujarat took initiative for transfer of knowledge from lab-to-land and conducted mass programme for mobilization of farmers such as “Krishi Mahotsav” which has substantially improved extension, delivery and convergence of various schemes of the Government. Gujarat has taken an integrated approach to improve farm income by focusing on the convergence of farming, animal husbandry and agro-forestry. Consequently, growth of agriculture in Gujarat has been more than 9% per annum for last several years, resulting in the rise in value of agriculture production from Rs.13,659 crores in 2000-2001 to Rs.49,036 crores in 2007-2008. Gujarat Minister Shri Narottambhai Patel and other senior officers attended the meeting.