CHANDIGARH: Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) legislator Harinderpal Singh Chandumajra on Thursday lodged a strong protest against finance minister Manpreet Badal’s suggestion to hand over agriculture research to the centre, saying this would further compromise the powers of States even as he asked the State government to take concrete steps to tackle the problem of ground water depletion.
Interjecting on a suggestion made by the finance minister that the State should hand over the responsibility of agriculture research to the centre due to scarcity of funds, Chandumajra said this would only further strengthen the centre’s hold on States and could result in more interference in State affairs. He said what was needed was putting up a strong case for allocation of more central funds for agriculture research instead of abrogating this responsibility.
Chandumajra while speaking on the nonofficial resolution on ways and means to save ground water depletion, said as per current data in another two decades the water level in the State would fall to one thousand feet. He said the only way out was to augment the canal irrigation system in the State. “Unfortunately nothing is being done on this issue with only Rs 100 crore being kept for the irrigation department which is spent on salaries with no money being spent on new projects”. The SAD legislator said similarly efforts should be made to utilize the water flowing wastefully to Pakistan, saying the government should expedite the Makowal dam proposal.
The SAD legislator also raised the issue of ensuring remunerative payment to farmers for alternate crops like maize. He said the State government should include maize in the public distribution system which would allow it to avail of central funds to subsidize the MSP in case maize was purchased at less than the MSP by private players. He said shifting farmers to maize would also result in a saving of Rs 5,000 per acre spent on providing free power to them to grow paddy. Chandumajra also asked the government to take advantage of central water management schemes saying the State had lost out on Rs 6,000 crore which it could have got under the Atal Bhujal scheme for ground water conservation.