"There is no harm in having an open debate on issues like Article 370 and a common civil code. Why should we shy away from weighing their pros and cons?" said the Agriculture Minister in reply to a question at his first press conference here, after assuming office.
Talking about his ministry, Singh said he was new to it, but the priorities had been set, which include increasing milk production, having 100 per cent of agricultural land across the country irrigated and introduction of an agricultural income insurance scheme to make farming an economically viable occupation.
The agriculture ministry has been asked to work out a plan to increase milk production by raising the productivity of indigenous breed of cows.
"We had achieved the distinction of being the leading milk-producing country during the Vajpayee government, but milk production has suffered in the past few years. We have to regain our earlier position in milk production, for which, I have asked ministry officials to prepare a plan to increase the productivity of our indigenous breed of cows," the Union Minister said.
There is also a plan to introduce 'Pradhan Mantri Gram Sinchai Yojana' on the lines of PMGSY which will help in irrigation of 100 per cent agricultural land in the country, Singh said. There are 14 crore hectares of agricultural land in the country, out of which, just 44 per cent are irrigated at present.
The 'gram sinchai yojana' will help irrigate 100 per cent of such land, he added. Considering the vulnerability of vast swathes of agricultural land to natural calamities which destroy crops, efforts were underway to introduce an agricultural income insurance scheme (Krishi Amdani Bima Yojana) which will ensure minimum returns to farmers whose crops are destroyed by floods and other natural calamities, he said.
Expressing concern at the condition of Gobind Ballabh Pant University of Agriculture and Technology in the state, which has been without a Vice Chancellor for some time, he said, efforts were on to restore it to its lost glory.
The Union Minister also spoke of plans to elevate the status of the Central Soil and Water Conservation Research and Training Institute in Dehradun to that of a deemed university.
Thanking the people of Uttarakhand for giving a massive mandate to BJP, which won all the five seats in the state in the Lok Sabha polls, Singh who is in charge of the party's affairs in the hill state said he had come here especially to thank the voters.
"I haven't yet visited my constituency in Bihar because my priority was to first come here and thank the people of the state for giving an overwhelming mandate to BJP," he said. When asked why no Uttarakhand MP was given a Cabinet berth, he said it was premature to say this.
"Only 45 ministers have been sworn in so far. Though we are not going to have a jumbo-sized Cabinet, I am sure Uttarakhand will not go unrepresented when it is expanded," he said.