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Growth of India lies in the growth of its states – KCR

Speaking at the fourth governing council meeting of NITI Aayog held in New Delhi on Sunday the 17th June 2018, Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrashekhar Rao asked the Centre to encourage fast-growing States such as Telangana by giving tax incentives, if additional devolution of funds linked to performance is not possible as the prosperity of the country lies in the growth of States. Chief Minister also reiterated the suggestion made in the past to link the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) to agriculture as part of the need to focus on agriculture and allied activities as an integrated sector.

CM said the burden of investment in farming (for farm work) could be reduced at least by half by providing 50% funding from the employment guarantee scheme and meeting the remainder from farmers. Stating that such initiative would also help in doubling farmers’ income by 2020 as being planned by the Centre, the Chief Minister requested the Centre to exempt allied areas of agriculture such as dairy, poultry, goat- and sheep-rearing and fisheries from the income tax net.

To put in his own words the CM said that: “I would like to mention that the growth of India lies in the growth of its states. Therefore the fast-growing states must be encouraged by tax incentives, if not by additional transfers from central funds. Further, we need to focus on agriculture and allied activities as an integrated sector and dairy, poultry, goat and sheep rearing, and fisheries should also be exempted from income tax. As a part of the initiatives for doubling the income of farmers, MGNREGA funds should be tagged to agriculture with 50% contribution from farmers to reduce the cost of their investment”.

CM started his statement with a thanksgiving note and said that: On behalf of the Government and people of Telangana, I take this opportunity to convey my deep sense of gratitude to Honourable Prime Minister for inviting us to the fourth meeting of the Governing Council of NITI Aayog in the true spirit of Cooperative Federalism. Since the previous meeting of the Governing Council, several initiatives had been taken up by Government of India at the national level and by my colleague Chief Ministers in their respective States. We have to learn from each other to accelerate the overall pace of development in the country. In this connection, I would like to share some of the initiatives taken up by the State of Telangana with all of you.

Stressing on the need of cooperative federalism, often talked about by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Chief Minister wanted more freedom to States in the implementation of schemes in the areas such as health, education, urban development, agriculture and rural development. Instead, the Centre should focus on macro-economic, defence and external affairs issues where the country was facing challenges, he suggested.

The CM in this context in his concluding remarks has said that: I would like to say that the country is facing lots of challenges in the areas of external affairs, defence and macro-economic and global issues. Therefore in the changing global scenario, it should continue to give due attention to those issues and at the same time leave more space to the states in doing work in such sectors as health, education, urban development, agriculture and rural development and also remove the rigidness of certain centrally sponsored schemes that curtail the initiatives of the state government”.

CM also utilised the opportunity to share some of the initiatives taken up by Telangana Government, including the recently launched Rythu Bandhu scheme, to provide support to farmers with ₹4,000 per acre per farming season as input assistance, irrespective of their landholding. He explained that all farmers were covered under the scheme since more than 98% of them in Telangana were small and marginal.

The CM said that: “We have launched a scheme called “Rythu Bandhu” (friends of farmers) providing Rs.4,000/- per acre per crop as agriculture input assistance. As there are more than 98% small and marginal farmers in Telangana, it makes sense to cover all the farmers to avoid unnecessary screening. The scheme also envisages “give it up” provision where farmers can surrender their cheques. I would also like to allay unfounded fears of some that Rythu Bandhu Scheme will distort the financial market. This “agricultural investment assistance scheme” does not distort the credit system, agriculture product prices and cropping pattern etc.”

Stating that the Rythu Bandhu was introduced after purifying land records and issuing new pattaadar passbooks-cum-title deeds with 17 embedded security features to landholder, the Chief Minister stated that it would also facilitate hassle-free land transactions in rural areas by integrating the registration and mutation process. He said that: “Most important area of agriculture reform is providing clear title over farm land. We have taken up a massive exercise of purifying the title of over 50 lakhs farm holdings in the State and have given them a Pattaadar Pass Book with embedded 17 security features. We are also planning to integrate registration and mutation process in a seamless manner. I am sure, with the help of express mutation, we would be able to develop a robust mechanism for hassle free land transactions in rural areas. Over a period of time, we would like to usher in similar reforms for urban properties as well”.

Chief Minister also listed out Rythu Bhima Yojana with Rs. 5 lakh insurance that would provide cover to all farmers in the age group of 18 to 60 years. This would be launched on August 15, with a payment of about Rs. 1,000 crore premium by the State. CM said that: “Another scheme started by us is “Rythu Bhima Yojana” for all the farmers in the State aged 18 to 60 years with the public-sector giant ‘LIC” insuring each farmer for Rs.5.00 lakhs in case of his / her unfortunate death due to any reason whatsoever. The State Government bears the insurance premium costing about Rs.1,000/- Crores per annum. Formal launch of this scheme is scheduled on 15th August 2018 covering about 50 lakh farmers.

CM has also talked about investment in the irrigation sector by taking up the Kaleshwaram and Palamoor-Rangareddy projects to create irrigation potential of over 28 lakh acres and construction of 356 godowns with a storage capacity of 18.3 lakh tonnes. CM with reference to these said that: “In order to extending a helping hand to farmers we are also making massive investments in irrigation. Kaleshwaram and Palamoor Ranga Reddy Irrigation Projects, on rivers Godavari and Krishna, on completion are going to become the life line of Telangana. These Projects shall provide new irrigation facilities to farmers in over 26 lakh acres and in stabilization of 18 lakh acres in 24 Districts of Telangana. We are setting up new standards in completing various Mega Projects without any time and cost overruns”.

“Another major infrastructure development we have taken up for the overall growth of agriculture sector is construction of 356 agricultural godowns in the past 3 years with a storage capacity of 18.30 lakh MTs at a cost of Rs.1050 Crores. This is in addition to 170 godowns with a capacity of 4.17 lakh MTs storage capacity, and these godowns are distributed throughout the State depending upon potential for usage. This is helping farmers in many ways, like storage of agriculture produce in order to beat market fluctuations, storage of agriculture inputs like fertilizers, seeds etc.”

The Chief Minister concluding his statement wished the meeting of Governing Council a grand success.

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