Badal disagrees with PM on free power to agri sector

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Chandigarh, Sep 12 (UNI) Disagreeing with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's stand on free power for the agricultural sector, Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal today chose to make it clear that his government would continue with its policy of supplying free electricity to this vital sector.

" What have the farmers of Punjab got for their hardwork and turning a food deficit country into a surplus one", he asked while claiming that in the last 60 years not much had been done to improve the economic condition of the farming community.

Refering to the PMs statement that free power to farmers had led to excessive drawing of groundwater, Mr Badal said " these may be the personel views of the PM". The concession of free power to the farmers was given after a lot of thought, he added.

If the farmers of Punjab had drawn excessive groundwater, it was for feeding the millions in this country, he said. " Punjab should be paid a royality for the groundwater that had been drawn for getting higher yields of foodgrain for the nation", he said while pointing out that coal producing states were being paid a royality for exploitation of their natural resources.

Turning to his favourite topic, the Chief Minister said that the rise of Minimum Support Price (MSP) of wheat and paddy was not proportionate to the rising prices of agri inputs. " I have been advocating linking of MSP with the price index", he pointed out.

UNI

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