Lok Sabha

July 16, 2019

Pratima Mondal speaks on the Demands for Grants for the Ministries of Rural Development, Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare

Pratima Mondal speaks on the Demands for Grants for the Ministries of Rural Development, Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare


Madam, I rise to speak on the Demands for Grants under the Ministry of Rural Development, Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare for 2019-20. But, before coming to this particular subject, I like to draw the attention of the House, through you Madam, that the Union Government has so proudly announced that Indian Economy will reach $ 3 trillion by end of financial year 2020 and thereby overtake UK. But, before the government uses this as another banner for inflating its ever growing balloon of public brainwashing propaganda, I would like to post a fact that the government has continuously overlooked.

In 2018, India overtook France as a sixth largest economy in the World at $ 2.6 trillion. But what this government does not tell its people that France being a country of mere 65 million people who were generating a GDP of $ 2.5 trillion while India is the home of a continent-size population of 1.3 billion and is housed with a $ 2.6 trillion economy. Soon the figures being surpassed is that of UK, a country with 66 million people. Then again, India will evidently pass this mere feat of overtaking another European country with smaller set of people. The real picture will never be brought to light and the headlines will keep fooling the common man.

So, what is it that really matters to the public of a country? While the headlines of being a part of the 6th largest economy in the world will give a hollow sense of pride, at the end of the day, he will ask what is my benefit? Indeed. What is my purchasing power and why has it not gone up to the desired level?

Now, coming to sector-specific problems and the interest of the common man, it is accurate to see that Bharat gaaon mein basta hain. This is because rural India comprises of 67 percent of the total Indian population and this majority population
lags far behind the urban standards in all aspects and we are all aware that urban areas are not in a healthy position. Now you can imagine the condition of Gramin Bharat. The economy of this region is mainly dependent on agriculture which contributes to 15.87 per cent to the GDP. The 5 trillion vision of the economy government seeks to contribute how much into the hands of the majority or will it carry on the same propaganda where 73 per cent of the wealth is concentrated in the hands of one per cent of the population. Farmers income witnessed a 14-year low record, in October to December 2018 the gross value was a low single digit reflects the reality. In the election mandate of the ruling party, agriculture was the most important issue.

This sector could have found benefits in this budget. However it has failed to do so. I would like to elaborate because common people should know the reality, simply allotting funds does ensure development. Sir, the allocation of the Ministry of Rural Development has fallen from 4.7 per cent in 2018-19 to 4.4 per cent in 2019-20 in terms of its share in the total budget. Thus the shout-out that it has been allotted Rs 5,200 crore more that the last year is absolutely baseless. It has decreased in terms of share and .3 per cent makes a lot of difference.

Sir, government pats its back for electrifying India. Finance Minister mentioned that all homes will be electrified fully. My question is did the government try to find out the reason behind this aversion to technology? It is very sad to know that 31 million houses are still in darkness. Sir, 10 per cent of houses in a village just have 1 bulb each in their houses and this according to the government means fully electrified. Sir, the reality of Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana scheme is not as bright as depicted because it is not a brainchild of this government. It is a mere subset of the already running Rajiv Gandhi Gramin LPG Vitaran Yojana. And even more importantly, Sir, to boost its success rate, the government added existing BPL subscribers’ number of almost 1.7 crore just to create a hype. The Petroleum Planning and Analysis Cell confirmed anomalies in reporting system. It is also necessary to note that 13% or 3.25 crores of LPG consumers are inactive, the highest being in Haryana, a massive 40%. So, the government is playing with the people’s mind by showcasing a set of numbers. I would like to put forth a report of CAG which mentions that before the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana scheme, households with LPG cylinders in an average year used 6.27 cylinders, which came down to 5.6 after the scheme. Sir, what is the response to this by the Hon’ble Prime Minister Ji? This data is absolutely authentic.

I’m now coming to the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana. It is terrifying to know that there exists no block or district level reporting under the scheme; only state level data is available. Also, the CAG report said that in many states like Gujarat, Jharkhand in violation of the rules, completion of the houses were taking more than 2 years. In December 2018, only 8% of the target was achieved and by half of 2019, 1.54 crore houses are claimed to be completed. This is just misleading people. ‘Housing For All by 2020’ is an absolute political gimmick.

It is a great initiative that a Jal Shakti Mantralay would be constituted. But what about the failure of the numerous water supply schemes like Swajal Yojana. Sir, if that is having a success, more than half of India would not have been suffering a drought condition. Even international bodies and media are questioning the capabilities of India in the matter of Chennai’s water scarcity. Sir, when will the government really work and not just keep praising itself when in reality, the masses are suffering?

Secondly, agriculture is where expecting technology and structural changes which amounted to be lean in this Budget. Instead, the Government is following carrot and stick policies of the Britishers. On one hand, rewarding the farmers a sum of Rs 6000 per year, and on the other pushing them following the same old infrastructure which needs a change.

There are multiple dimensions to agrarian distress :
1. High input cost
2. Limited access to the institutional Finance to the marginalised farmers
3. The exploitative nature in which only one-third of the retail prices reaches the farmers
4. The PDS system does not undertake procurement operation for 24 crops for which minimum support price is announced.
The list goes on.

Sir, the government claims of successful schemes like Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana and is not reflected in reality. Sir, how long will it take us to understand that loan waving and economic support is not the key to resolve the problems of this sector, had it been so we would have witnessed a decrease in suicide of farmers, whereas in Maharashtra alone the suicide toll has risen by 91% in the last four years.

We are facing severe drought condition all across India in 2019 and in this scenario people are seeking jobs under MGNREGA scheme is bound to go up. But what did the government do? They decreased the allotment by Rs 1,084 crore. How fair is that? The Minister even identified 1,592 critical blocks but did not indicate any proposal to address this challenge.

Again the Finance Minister talked about zero-budget farming. Going back to the basics, how is it possible, when there is almost no extended help in the field of fertilisers. During the last five years, subsidy in urea was not touched upon and this was repeated yet again without any reforms in fertiliser subsidy scheme. It is unrealistic to expect the farmers to switch to organic farming. Here it is very important to note that the widespread use of glycogen is harming the nation as it is a proven carcinogenic element, which is banned in numerous countries while we are serving it on our plates.

Sir, I would like to take this opportunity and throw light on the successful scheme in my State, under Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s government – ‘Jal Dharo, Jal Bharo’. It aims towards raising citizens’ awareness for rainwater conservation and effective water use in irrigation. This has gained positive results. Today, in Bengal, there exists no house which is deprived of water. In Bengal, the farmers’ income has increased three times in the past seven years due to several innovative schemes taken by Hon’ble Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. Our ‘Krishak Bandhu’ scheme supports the cause of farmers and landless labourers in the State.

I would like to conclude by putting forth a metaphor which will explain the current situation in India. Let’s consider the government to be a surgeon and the economy to be its ailing patient and Indian population the family members of the patient. What this surgeon is doing is that he is not giving its patients the required treatment. Instead, he is giving it a makeup on the outside where the primary organs are deteriorating on the inside and also fooling its family by showing the X-Rays which does not show the real picture, and telling them all is well and good, before it is too late for them to say what the actual situation is.

Thank you Sir, for giving me the opportunity, and I hope that the hon’ble minister will clarify my observations.