At Niti meeting, Amarinder raises farm laws, COVID-19 vaccination, GST compensation


The Congress leader also proposed that states are consulted before deciding the priority list for COVID-19 vaccination.

Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh Saturday urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to ensure urgent resolution to the ongoing farmers’ “unrest”, and an early release of the state’s pending GST compensation.

In his pre-recorded address for the sixth Governing Council virtual meeting of Niti Aayog, the Congress leader also proposed that states are consulted before deciding the priority list for COVID-19 vaccination.

Mr. Singh, who could not attend the meeting as he was unwell, also expressed concerns over the threat to Punjab’s agriculture sector as a result of the “disruptions caused by the three new farm laws”, according to a state government release.

Farmers have been protesting against the three new Central agricultural laws enacted in September last year, and demanding they be repealed.

Mr. Singh also raised the issue of COVID-19 vaccine, urging the Centre to consult the state before fixing priorities for vaccination, as the exercise, he argued, involves the entire population.

He also requested the Centre to release Punjab’s pending GST compensation, amounting to ₹8,253 crore for the period between April 2020 and January 2021.

Urging respect for the ‘annadaata’ (the farmer), the CM reiterated his government’s stand that agriculture is a state subject it should be left to be legislated upon by states in the true spirit of “cooperative federalism” enshrined in the Constitution.

He also pointed out that the state has already passed amendments to the Central legislations.

The CM asserted in his speech that any reform in a sector affecting almost 60 per cent of the country’s workforce must be brought only through a process of extensive consultation with all the stakeholders, of which Punjab is a key member being at the forefront of ensuring food security for the nation.

He also raised the farmers’ apprehension that the Minimum Support Price-based procurement through Food Corporation of India (or agencies on its behalf) may be discontinued in view of the Shanta Kumar Committee Report of 2015.

The CM also stressed the need for the government of India to decisively dispel any such impression “to instil proper confidence in the farmers of the state”.

Mr. Singh also used the forum to once again reiterate the state government’s demand for a bonus of ₹100 per quintal of paddy procured as straw management compensation.

He requested the Centre to provide ₹5 crore per megawatt financial support for biomass power projects and ₹3.5 crore per MW for biomass solar hybrid projects to the state as Viability Gap Fund (VGF) to help alleviate the effects of paddy straw burning through ex-situ utilisation of available paddy straw with good returns to the farmers.

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