Chandigarh, Oct 9 (UNI) A four member Australian delegation led by its High Commissioner John McCarthy today expressed keenness to include Punjab in its sustainable integrated marketing campaign especially in the area of agriculture value addition.
An assurance to this effect was given by Mr McCarthy during a meeting with Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, which held here at Punjab Bhawan.
Mr McCarthy said that Punjab was the leading agrarian state and deserved a rightful slot in this campaign to put its stagnant agriculture economy on the high growth trajectory.
He said that Australia had a proven track of expertise and technology in the field of agro-processing, value addition, post harvest logistics, efficient marketing and cold chain network from which Punjab could be enormously benefited.
The Australian High Commissioner also informed Mr Badal that the Australian government was looking forward to set up educational campuses of its universities in the field of Science and Technology, Management, Information Technology and Medicine in collaboration with the universities of the state to impart world class education to the aspirants because 15 per cent of the students who pursue higher education in the Australian universities were from Punjab.
Taking part in the deliberations, Mr Badal urged the Australian High Commissioner to open a Consulate in Punjab to provide visa services and other facilities to the people of the state.
Mr McCarthy assured the Chief Minister that he would take up the matter with the Australian government for the opening of consulate in Punjab as two Australian consulates were already functioning at Mumbai and Chennai in India.
He also mentioned that the Australian government was actively considering a proposal to set up a branch office of Australian Trade Commission in Punjab to boost the bilateral trade between Australia and Punjab.
The Chief Minister also asked the Mr McCarthy to explore the possibilities to reduce the salinity in the ground water in the state, which was a great health hazard. He informed Mr Badal that Australia had a technology in this field but it was too expensive. He invited the state hydro experts to visit Australia to ascertain the viability of this technology.
Mr Badal directed the Chief Secretary, Financial Commissioner Development and Secretary Higher Education to have one to one interaction with the visiting Australian delegation to discuss the issues of common interest to enhance the prospects of mutual trade and cooperation between Punjab and Australia.