Marketing of food grains – Link roads get repaired

Marketing of food grains is a cornerstone element of the agricultural sector in a state. The food and civil supplies department of the Punjab government, has been taking efficient and effective steps to ensure suave and hassle free marketing of food grains.

Marketing of food grains – Link roads get repaired.pngThe state of Punjab has been operating pro – actively towards repairing, maintenance and construction of link roads which is clearly evident from the fact that, all the villages of the state are linked with mandis, with the help of a vast network of rural link roads that are carpeted every six years with the premix. Punjab, being an agrarian state where 75% of the population depends directly or indirectly on agriculture to earn a living, and stringent efforts are being made by the state government to improve the facilities in all respects.

The agricultural produce of the farmers shall yield productive results only when, its cornerstone i.e. marketing of food grains is operating efficiently in a state. The marketing of food grains in Punjab is witnessed to be a success in the state, owing to the potent road network and its maintenance.

The total length of rural link roads as on 30.06.2002 was 42,000 km, prior to which about 6000 KM of link roads have been constructed under various schemes which is 1500 km, 3000 km, Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojna and various others schemes which are approved by Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and the Chairman of Punjab Mandi Board.

Punjab State Agricultural Marketing Board raised a loan of about Rs. 89 crores, from the Oriental Bank of Commerce with a view of providing additional infrastructural facilities. The project includes 53 market committees which covers approximately 178 places in the state for development.

The Pradhan Mantri Sadak Yojna, which was initiated in the year 2000 by the then Prime minister of India, Atal Bihari Vajpayee who contributed in a large quantum towards upgrading of inter-village routes, and their maintenance, thereby improving the link roads in the state for marketing of food grains.

Numbers sourced from a statistical survey by www.agropedia.com, the total road network of the Punjab state is 47,605 km, out of which, 97% of the villages are connected by metal roads. All the cities and the major towns of the adjoining states are connected by National Highway. In contrast to metal roads, there are link roads carpeted for about 31,657 kms in the state.

The Shiromani Akali DalBJP led state government of Punjab, has been successful in providing a responsive government of dedicated politicians who can live up to the basic standards of a state, such as an efficient development in the infrastructure and the agricultural sector of the Punjab state. After all, Punjab – a state of about 27.98 million people cannot afford a perception that their state lacks of basic facilities such as link roads.

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24 hour water supply in villages, a leap towards Punjab’s prosperity

Bhago Devi, wife of a small time farmer of Railon Khurd in district Ropar, no longer stores drinking water in in the containers in his house. Till a few years, this was a daily routine for her as the fear of water going out of stock would always loom large. But ever since the management and maintenance of water supply was handed over to the villagers in her village, there is a big respite as now there is a 24 hour water supply in every household.

24 hour water supply in villages, a leap towards Punjab’s prosperity.png
Railon Khurd is one of the eight villages in Punjab where life has changed for the inhabitants with a 24 hour supply of water in the villages. Other villages which have become part of path breaking projects are Chitmali, Paprala, Rasulpur Dedran, Manhera Jattan of Fatehgarh Sahib village Singhpura and Sitabgarh. The villagers here have been able to get this amenity with the help of collaborative efforts from the Punjab government and the World Bank.

According to Priya Ojha a community mobilization specialist, this was possible because of zeal and enthusiasm of villagers, particularly the women. Under the project, the villagers are made to have complete control over the availability and supply of water and revenue collection. This is a real democratic scheme which imbibes the concept of by the people for the people and of the people.

In fact it was due to the holistic approach and sustained efforts of the state leadership that the number of villages having 24 hours water supply has risen substantially in last few years. The investment for each scheme was between Rs. 37 lakh to Rs 58 lakhs. Under the scheme, a piped distribution network has to be built to households by accessing ground water aquifers or canal water, and also overhead reservoirs to store the water.

Challenges which were dealt with

With ever rising demand of water due to growing population and the ground water level going down, improving water supply in the villages has been one of the biggest challenges for the state government. Still about 17% of villages in Punjab do not have water supply systems at all, while in the remaining there is only intermittent supply. Besides there are areas which have heavily contaminated water. Initially villagers were reluctant to opt for the scheme and make contribution. For making it financially viable in an average village of about 22 households at least 70 % of households had to take water connections. Despite several awareness campaigns like Information, Education and Communication (IEC) campaigns, when villagers did not show much interest in the programme, the cost sharing provisions were modified. As per the new provisions upper limits for community contributions were slashed from Rs.1,500 to Rs. 800. The amount for contributions was further lowered for border villages and others which were vulnerable to floods.

For effective implementation, audits were linked with the release of funds and the panchayat records were regularly updated. This ensured that there was no delay in the release of funds and the implementation was executed as per the plans.

Water supply schemes in rural areas of Punjab become a hallmark

Water supply schemes in rural areas of Punjab become a hallmark.jpg

Despite acute shortage of water for irrigation and the groundwater level going down, Punjab government has not only succeeded in implementing schemes related to drinking water supply in the rural areas of the state but has also set an example for several other states.  It was in 2006 first that the Punjab government launched a medium-term program under the World Bank-supported Punjab Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Project. The project had a target of providing all the 15,170 habitations with 70 litres per capita per day (lpcd) of safe drinking water.

Schemes for water meters and connections

The government prepared elaborate plans to ensure regular water supply to the villages which were targeted under its Medium Term Programme sans any financial support from the government. Though initially only a few villages were to be covered, in later phases, the plan aimed at extending the scheme to all the villages in Punjab. To ensure financial sustainability, and cover maximum areas, the government has also drafted a new water policy. The basic objective of policy was to encourage metered water connections in the rural areas and provide regular water supply in a feasible manner.

To start with, in a bid to give boost to the project, Punjab government proposed to provide water meters with water connection in 100 villages of state on pilot basis. With billing being linked with the consumption of water directly, the poor consumers were to be the main beneficiary. Metering and billing was promoted to encourage people to save water and prevent leakage and waste.  It gave desired results and by January 2013, as many as 200 out of the 840 villages covered under the project had opted for metered household connections. What was more significant was that 15 of these villages round-the-clock water supply.

Complaint redressal system

In a bid to increase accountability in the rural and remote areas and make functioning of employees involved with the project and scheme more effective, a unique complaint redressal system was formed.

In November 2009, a Shikayat Nivaran Kendra was set up with a toll free number where rural consumers could call round the clock and register their complaints online, request services and track progress of their complaints. So as to ensure impartiality, the work was outsourced to an independent agency.

With every official remaining connected with the online system through phone or internet, it is now easy for top officials to directly monitor complaints.

The average time that should normally be taken to address a particular complaints was specified and if a complaint was not rectified within the given period, it was to be forwarded to a senior official. The system also ensured that the complaints were not shown closed till the consumer complainant was not satisfied.

Now covering over 16 million consumers in more than 15,000 habitations, the system is helping curtail absenteeism and non-performance of employees in remote villages, which was nearly impossible otherwise This has also made those involved with the management, more transparent, accountable and consumer-friendly.

Others emulating

The complaint redressal system about water problems has been so successful that the Union government has suggested to other states to replicate the redressal system. West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar and Rajasthan have already approached Punjab government to emulate the functioning.

Water supply in rural areas: A triumphant affair in Punjab

Water, a symbol of devotion and purity is one of the chief elements responsible for survival on the earth. This is clearly evident from the fact that, the human body comprises of 75 percent of water and two thirds of the earth’s surface is also covered by water. Keeping in view the following facts, the Punjab government has made reasonable progress in the water supply and sanitation sector, considerably.

Water supply in rural areas - A triumphant affair in Punjab - Progressive Punjab, Irrigation, Agriculture

The progress can easily be traced by having a look at the 16 World Bank mission which was seen as rating and commending the Punjab’s implementation of Rs. 1280 crore in Punjab Rural Water Supply and Sanitation (PRWSS) project, Phase-I as the best in the country. The state was further appreciated by the saying that it should be declared as a model project and it should be replicated in other parts of the country.

What is Punjab Rural Water Supply and Sanitation (PRWSS) project?
The Punjab Rural Water Supply and Sanitation (PRWSS) project, is an initiative taken basically by the Government of Punjab, Government of India and IDA (World Bank) in order to march towards the revolutionary transformation of the Water Supply and Sanitation sector in the rural areas of the state. The Government of Punjab’s visionary strategy of the PRWSS aims at conducing all the villages of the state with 100% water supply, in addition to opulent service standards and private service connections to the household sector.

The PRWSS project does not neglect the environmental sanitation at all, as various provisions have been made to pioneer the work, at pilot basis in approximately 100 villages by initiating modern underground waste water collection and disposal systems. The Department of Water Supply and Sanitation (DWSS) of Punjab, has often shown signs of their pro-active approach towards the project by amending the Rural Water Supply and Sanitation (RWSS) policy. The apex features of the new policy framework includes improving fiscal and operational performance, timely upgradation and management of RWSS services and facilities, introducing partial capital cost sharing by users as an expression of their demand and financing recurring O & M costs by the user communities. The policy is set to make the rural sector more efficient, competitive and global in its nature. The progress report of the project is as follows-

Sr.No.

New/Upgradation of Water Supply Schemes
in NC and PC Villages

Number

1.

No. of Villages

1452

2.

No. of Schemes

1373

3.

No. of Schemes whose Estimates have been Administratively Approved

1373

4.

No. of villages where 90%-100% Beneficiary Share has been Collected

1452

5.

No. of villages commissioned up to (31-12-2014)

1452

Irrespective of the problems which may crop up from time to time during the course of development, the Department of Water Supply and Sanitation (DWSS) under the guidance of the SAD-BJP led Government of Punjab has been successful in achieving the objectives of the PRWSS project to a large extent. Such triumphant policies which are designed in accordance to the emerging economic issues and problems has boosted the over all progress and prosperity of the Punjab state.

Punjab government infuses development with rural link roads

Punjab government has taken a slew of measures for improving the link roads in the state. Though centre has been funding for upgradation and construction of highways the state government has effectively been utilizing the funds collected from the levy of market fee and rural development. It’s to the credit of ruling SAD-BJP government today that every village in Punjab has at least one link road. All the villages of the State are linked with the Mandis through this vast network of rural link roads which are carpeted every six years with the premix.In fact the success of agricultural marketing operations all over the state today is primarily due to the vast road network.

Punjab government infuses development with rural link roads - Bikram Singh Majithia, Progressive Punjab, sukhbir singh badal, Developing Punjab, Punjab Government Development Projects

Link Roads

There is an extensive network of about 55000 kms of link roads in Punjab, out of which 22341 Km link roads have been either upgraded or repaired with an estimated cost of Rs.2581 crore. Apart from them about 7966 Km long new link roads have been constructed with an estimated cost of Rs. 1174 crores recently.  Also the new link roads with length of 2319 Km are under construction with an estimated cost of Rs.387 crore. Besides, 6533 Km long link roads are being repaired with an estimated cost of Rs.682 crore.

Under Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojna (PMGSY) scheme 4135 kms long link roads have been upgraded with an investment of Rs. 1660 crores. Also 1230 kms of rural roads are now being upgraded with an estimated cost of Rs. 585.00 crores under PMGSY Phase IX and X. The work on these roads has already started and is expected to be completed during the next few years.

Projects already taken up

In June 2002, the rural length of link roads was about 42000Km. Since then about 6000 KM of link roads have been constructed under various schemes. Under Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojna more than 1500 km of link roads have been constructed. Under other projects which have been approved by chief minister Parkash Singh Badal and Chairman of Punjab Mandi Board, 3000 Km of roads have been constructed. As of now the total length of link roads in Punjab is more than 48000 KM. Besides new construction, link roads are being repaired from time to time.

It’s only due to the improvement of these lifelines the basic infrastructure for agricultural, economic, industrial, commercial, social and cultural development has improved magnificently for Punjab. In fact apart from developing link roads, the state government has taken key initiatives for improving overall road infrastructure in the State. These link roads have also helped in addressing the problem of traffic congestion in the villages and towns and by providing alternative routes.
There is an extensive network of 7373 Kms of Plan roads in Punjab. It includes 1462 kms. of State Highways, 1797 Kms of Major District Roads and 4114 kms of Other District roads.
Overall the government has plans to spend Rs 1,700 crore on up-gradation and expansion of rural link roads. According to Punjab Rural Development and Panchayat Minister Surjit Singh Rakhra, training would be imparted to Sarpanches and Panchs at the block-level and Zila Parishad and Block Samiti members would be trained at the district or state-level to facelift of the villages with rural roads, sewerage facilities and supply of potable water. He informs that that a digital map of the villages has been prepared to plan and work for their overall development in a strategic way.

A few other related projects

In fact travel by rivers, which is being taken by the union government in a big way too will help improving the road infrastructure in the state. “I have asked the Punjab Government to work out removal of canals on Satluj and Beas for waterways involving hovercrafts. There are 101 waterway projects under consideration to ease road and rail travel in the country,” said Nitin Gadkari, Union Minister of Road Transport, Highways and Shipping, during his visit to Punjab in 2015.

Pig Farming brings new hope for diversification in Punjab

Pig farming is turning out to be a good alternative for the farmers in Punjab with the state government giving a boost by a number of measures and incentives.

Recently the government signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the British Pig Association (BPA) with an objective to develop and promote piggery on scientific lines. As per the MoU, which was signed by the chief minister Parkash Singh Badal with the BPA export manager Chris Jackson, the BPA would provide pigs and frozen semen to farmers and livestock breeders of Punjab through state’s animal husbandry department.

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Badal after the tie up has expressed hope that this tie-up would give a boost and turn around the stagnant economy of farmers and livestock breeders by promoting state’s diversification programme.In fact it’s due to encouragement of Punjab government and the bigger scope of profitability that an increasing number of farmers have begun rearing pigs and have started importing good-quality sperm to raise yields in Punjab.

Free Training and Subsidy 

To encourage farmers, the department of animal husbandry has been giving free 2-3 week training for willing piggery farmers and piglets have been given to them by the department. Besides Guru Angad Dev Veterinary and Animal Sciences University (Gadvasu)’s Department of Veterinary and Animal Husbandry Extension Education Ludhiana has also started pig farming training for farmers of Punjab. The government has also helped them get bank loans for new piggery farms. In November 2014, Punjab Government doubled the amount of subsidy from 25 to 50 %, to the farmers for setting up new piggery farms. Animal Husbandry Minister Gulzar Singh Ranike, concedes that the initiative has been taken to help the poor people especially in the waterlogged Malwa region where the land is not cultivable.

Role Model Village

In a bid to promote piggery farming in Punjab, village Ratta Khera of District Sri Mukatsar Sahib has been adopted as Model Village. Encouraged by the rise in subsidy the villagers have set up 10 units of piggery in the village. The initiative is setting a new precedent for farmers looking towards diversification in other districts all over the state.

Ultra-modern facilities

Earlier with the consent of government in 2013, Polar Genetics India Private limited in collaboration with Alberta, Canada based Polar Genetics had announced setting up of Asia’s first Ultra-Modern Pig Farm at Grewal Farm village Khassi Kalan, Chandigarh road, Ludhiana. As per the agreement, the Canadian company has been asked to supply high quality frozen genetically improved boar semen. It has also been decided that the firm would share latest technology and the management skills with the farmers. This would help making the entire process of the breeding and slaughter of pigs, and processing and marketing of high quality pork meats hygienic and scientific. The ultra-modern Ludhiana farm has a capacity of 50 sows (female pigs).

Bright future for farmers

It’s due to this holistic approach of the government that venturing into pig farming has started giving benefits to farmers. Substantiating the success, Secretary of the Piggery Farmers’ Association, Dalwinder Singh says that the benefits and profit margin is much higher, “There is just no comparison of piggery with what one would have earned from traditional cultivation.While Rs 1.2 lakh per year from two acres is the wheat-paddy cycle potential, with piggery done at full scale, a one-kanal pig farm can give an income equal to 42 acres of traditional farming,” he adds.

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Punjab on a mission to encourage rearing of Sahiwal and other Dairy Animals

Punjab government has taken a slew of new measures to improve milk production and encourage farmers for rearing and buying dairy animals. As a part of its initiative the government has launched a project to develop pure breed of ‘Sahiwal’ cattle under Gokul Gram Yojna. Not only would this initiative help in developing pure breed but is also expected to increase the production of milk in the state. Under ‘Gokul Gram Yojna’ about 600 high-genetic breed of Sahiwal cows would be housed and it would be developed with the help of highly scientific techniques with an emphasis on increasing the milk production. The Animal Husbandry Department has started identifying and buying the Sahiwal Cows producing more milk.

Punjab on a mission to encourage rearing of Sahiwal and other dairy animals.png

A hi-tech Bull Mother Farm has also been set up under the Rashtriya Krishi Scientific Yojna at Village Rauni in district Patiala, to ensure good quality of breed.

Sahiwal breed was considered one of the best breeds of cattle in Punjab prior to Indo-Pak partition. According livestock census of 2012, there are about 38,446 Sahiwal breed cows left in Punjab.

State Animal Husbandry Minister Gulzar Singh Ranike says the government is committed to protect the indigenous cow breed of Sahiwal and increase the number of pure breed dairy animals.

“Punjab government is determined not only to protect this indigenous cow breed but also raise the number of high yielding cows,” he said. He also added that the cattle farmers who are rearing Sahiwal Cows, would be honoured with a cash award and certificates.

In another such move the government has started registration of high-breed cattle under its ‘herd registration programme’. The programme aims at identifying elite milk producing cattle by registering them online and crate a reliable database for people, who rear and buy dairy animals.

According to deputy director animal husbandry Jatinder Kumar Chopra, those who get their cattle registered online would be awarded incentive from Rs 500 to 1,500 in accordance with the quality.  For registration the high breed cattle are to be identified from five different categories- Sahiwal, Exotic Holstein Friesian (HF), Exotic/CB Jersey, Murrah and Nili-Ravi.

According to officials in the department of animal husbandry, HF breeds cows producing around 5,000 to 6,000 litre, Jersey 3,000 to 4,000 litre, Murrah 3,000 to 3,500 litre, Nili Ravi 2,000 to 3,000 litre and Sahiwal 2,000 to 2,500 litre milk during 292 days of the lactation period will be included in the elite production category.

The department has also decided that the veterinary inspectors will carry out door-to-door survey to identify high-breed cattle. The animals will be selected primarily within first month of calving on third and 14th days. Recording of milk produced in 292 days will be registered on Punjab animal husbandry website, along with the daily milk production, and the owner’s detail, including mobile number.

Dr Harjinderjit Singh Sandhu, director, animal husbandry, mentions that the department has already identified about 10,000 high-breed cows and buffalos under the category. The department has set a target of registering about 40,000 to 50,000 cattle every year.

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