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Gujarat CM Shri Narendra Modi has been appointed as the Chairperson to Head the working group on essential commodities and consumer price related subject with Chief Minister Maharastra, Andhra Pradesh, Tamilnadu as other members. The working group has been set up as follow up to the core group of meeting on price rise of the Centre Ministers and CMs headed by Hon'ble Prime Minister in a meeting today.

Gujarat Chief Minister Shri Narendra Modi vehemently today suggested that under the "Below Poverty Line" category there should be two separate card system (1) Jivan Raksha Card (Life Security Card) for food security of poor and (2) Jivan Dhoran Sudharana Card (Life Standard Improvement Card) for availing benefits under various welfare schemes of central and state Governments. This separate BPL Card system will ensure food security over and above nutrition benefits to vulnerable society beneficiaries and application of welfare scheme benefits like housing, sanitation, health insurances, self employment and other benefits, he added.

Shri Narendra Modi pointed out that while allocating essentials commodities under TPDS, Central Government should take into consideration the number of BPL Cards issued by the State Government only to avoid discrepancy in the estimates of number of poor families in the particular State. In this regard, Gujarat Government's request is already pending with the Central Government for allotment of food grains and other essential commodities for all 34 lakh BPL families.

Gujarat CM instated on launching a national scheme covering say five hundred urban towns for collecting their urban waste and converting to fertilizer and marketing them through fertilizer companies. He also stressed treatment of urban waste water and using them for agricultural production. This will not only keep urban area clean but also be great relief even for environmental purpose.

Gujarat CM emphasised that food grain and food grain related commodities man for mass consumption should be kept out of future trading in commodities.

Gujarat Chief Minister today made a number of suggestions to curb the prices of essential commodities in the first meeting of the Core Group of Central Ministers and State Chief Ministers on Prices of Essential Commodities held in Delhi at PM house under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh. He said that Government of India should develop a mechanism for constant monitoring of availability of pulses, sugar and other commodities in appropriate price band and in the event of such price band being exceeded; GoI should plan maintaining the minimum stocks of such essential commodities for their release through public distribution system at affordable prices. There should be some inbuilt mechanism in the policy that the benefits arising out of confessional imports actually percolate down to the common man. Instead of common man, more often the importers reap benefit from concessions on the imports. At present tsunami of price rise has not only affected common man but also the farmers and livestock, he added.

Gujarat CM also suggested that the design of TPDS for delivery of essential commodities should be ensured maximum participation of women from every house hold of the target groups and emphasised the need of scientific management of FCI operation and constitute a committee which can look into the issue of implementation of welfare schemes for urban poor.

While speaking at the first meeting of the Core Group, Gujarat CM emphasized on the need for taking major initiatives on increasing agriculture production and productivities with strengthening the legal provision of Essential Commodities Act, 1955 and Prevention of Black- marketing (PBM) Act 1980. GoI should also consider setting up the special courts for speedy trial of cases under Essential Commodities Act as well as restoration of appellate powers to State Governments. The detention period should be increased from six months to 12 months under Section 13 of the PBM Act, 1980, he suggested.

Addressing the members of Core Group, he said that development of wasteland could be an important component of the strategy for price control as it will help in increasing the agriculture production. He pointed out that GoI had constituted a committee headed by him to recommend measures for utilization of waste lands in the country. The committee has already submitted its report to GoI, however, no action has been taken on the recommendation of this committee. Gujarat CM strongly recommended that GoI should undertake development of large tracts of waste lands in the PPP mode for agriculture use. This will not only help in improving the agriculture production but also provide large scale employment to the rural people. GoI should consider this suggestion and devise an appropriate scheme for development of wastelands in the country.

Emphasizing the need of interlinking of rivers, Shri Modi said that besides using wastelands, water is another important factor for increasing agriculture production. Gujarat is the first State of country to get 21 rivers into a grid and start grid-cum-canal network successfully to become a role model for country. It is high time that GoI should take lead in implementing such an initiative across the country.

Giving an example of his government, Chief Minister Modi said that Gujarat has achieved considerable agricultural growth (9.6%) during 10th Five Year Plan with decreasing agriculture production volatility due to targeted policies and initiatives of the State Government. The production of food grains and cotton has been increased by 81% and 300% in year 2007-08 compared to the year 2002-03. The State Government's strategy to achieve this was to concentrate on the most important factors affecting the agricultural production. Macro and micro level plan is required to increase agricultural production and productivity along with long term policies for sustained agricultural growth at national level, he suggested.

Gujarat CM also narrated the State Government's initiatives on rain water harvesting movement, promotion of micro irrigation, Jyotigram Scheme, Krishi Mahotsav etc. To reduce the volatility, the State Government has undertaken a massive program for creating water harvesting structures as a prelude to Krishi Mahotsav which is organized in May for a month. Due to this concerted effort, the State Government has been able to build 1,76,270 Check Dams, 2,40,199 Khet Talavadis (Farm-pond) along with renovation and restoration of village tanks and 55,917 Boribund (sandbag dams) etc under public private partnership in Mission mode. This has created means for live saving supportive irrigation for Kharif crops. He urged the GoI to provide financial support to all States for this purpose. Massive support is required from Central Government for such programme, he said.

Gujarat CM also apprised that State Government has initiated a programme where about 34 lakh poor families will be provided with Soya based fortified atta. The programme will require 4 crore kg of wheat and 20000 kg of Soya. The State has affiliated with 50 flour mills to carry out the process. The atta will be sold at 2 rupees per kg. The project will be implemented with the cost of Rs.200 crores and will benefit BPL families and card holders of "Antyodaya Yojna".
 
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