Montek’s prescription

The professional group headed by Montek Singh Ahluwalia, set as much as recommend a post-Covid financial technique for Punjab, has carried out some plain-speaking. The group has prompt a sequence of austerity measures for the cash-strapped state that are more likely to have wide-ranging ramifications at a time when persons are already reeling beneath the impact of the pandemic and the lockdown. It has been prompt that Punjab eliminate free energy for the agriculture sector because it advantages solely the massive farmers and that its untargeted nature has prevented it from reaching what was supposed — alleviate the misery of small and marginal farmers.

Paddy is a water-guzzling crop and its cultivation was being blamed for the decline in water desk. It has been prompt that Punjab take a look on the Haryana mannequin that’s offering money incentives in districts the place water has been overexploited to diversify and scale back procurement of paddy from vital areas, steps that might additionally assist in checking the issue of stubble burning. Free energy meant an annual burden of round Rs 6,500 crore. This cash may very well be used to fund mortgage waiver, create infrastructure and implement schemes associated to training and well being, each precedence sectors within the post-Covid interval.

Studies have identified that over 80 per cent of the beneficiaries of free energy have been medium and enormous farmers whereas the remainder have been small farmers, the part amongst which rural indebtedness and suicides prevail. Of the over 14 lakh agricultural tubewells that benefited from the plan, solely round one-fifth have been with small farmers. So, the precedence needs to be set proper. But how will probably be carried out is what issues. Punjab must go for crop diversification rigorously. It misplaced out on industrialisation within the latest previous. It is for the Centre to make sure that cultivation of crops is broad-based on the idea of demand and remunerative costs to make sure meals safety. Pay cuts and deferring salaries can solely be short-term measures for the mounted earnings group. The authorities ought to reconcile conflicting pursuits in its decision-making course of.

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