Chidambaram praises BJP-ruled Gujarat on power supply

via PTI published on May 27, 2008

New Delhi: The efforts of Gujarat,
ruled by the BJP, in ensuring power supply to farmers has received
laurels from an unexpected quarter — the Congress-led UPA
government at the Centre.

“Gujarat has shown us the way on how to
fix power (problem) for agriculture,” Finance Minister P Chidambaram
said in an interview with Tehelka weekly, even as he expressed
concern in general over problems related to electricity, seeds and
fertiliser.

Of the five inputs in agriculture
sector, the country has done well on credits and is beginning to do
well on water, thanks to the massive outlays and irrigation
projects, he said.

However, it has neglected seeds, got a
completely distorted fertiliser subsidy regime and failed
“miserably” on the power front, he said, adding that Gujarat has
shown the country a way to fix power problem in agriculture.

“With seeds, we made a beginning last
year. We are trying to increase the replacement rate of seeds and
with fertilisers, there is clear way out provided we are willing to
bite the bullet. If all these five things come together, agriculture
will grow at a very rapid rate of more than four per cent a year,”
the Finance Minister said.

But even if it grows at four per cent,
farmers will continue to remain poor because of the large numbers
dependent on agriculture, he added.

The solution of the problem is to wean
farmers away from agriculture into industrial services — not urban
slums, just non-farm related activity, he said.

“Do away with the romantic idea that we
can continue to sustain 60 per cent of our population on
agriculture,” Chidambaram said.

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