The Niti Aayog on Friday told the Himachal Pradesh government to prepare a plan to double the income of its farmers in five years even as the Virbhadra Singh-led government blamed the think tank for a drastic decline in Central funding to the state. Increasing the income of farmers is our major focus, said Niti Aayog member Ramesh Chand while interacting with senior state ministers and officials of the state government. He said since the formation of Niti Aayog, its focus has shifted from allocation of funds to providing inputs to the states on strategic issues. “A slowdown has been noticed in the state’s agriculture, manufacturing, market reforms and irrigation and these needed to be addressed,” said Chand. However, in other fields the state has been performing better, he added. Agriculture Minister Sujan Singh Pathania advocated for introducing an income support system for the farmers. He demanded to bring the trout fish farming under a crop insurance scheme.
Communicating his concern over central funding, Health and Family Welfare Minister Kaul Singh said the state used to receive central assistance in the ratio 90:10 and was getting the status of special category hill state before the formation of Niti Aayog. In the post-Niti Aayog era, funds to the state have been reduced drastically in centrally-sponsored schemes and the special industrial package has been stopped, he said. The Minister said various schemes under the Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana have been submitted to the central government for approval but there has been no response so for. He urged the Niti Aayog to provide bonus to the state in lieu of its commendable role in forest conservation and putting a complete ban on felling.
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Singh also requested that villages with population less than 250 be brought under the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana of the Ministry of Rural Development to ensure road connectivity there. In his inaugural address on Friday, Chief Secretary V.C. Pharka said the state government was in a position to achieve most of the targets by 2022 but added that decline in central funding would definitely come in the way of doubling the income of farmers.