In Bengal, PM Modi promises farmers’ welfare, industrialisation

Abhishek Law Kolkata | Updated on February 07, 2021

Narendra Modi and Governor Jagdeep Dhankar at the foundation stone-laying event of a dewaxing unit at Haldia Refinery   -  PTI

All arrears due to West Bengal farmers - nearly ₹18,000 per family over three years under the PM Kisan Samman Nidhi Yojana will be cleared “immediately” if the BJP comes to power, Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, promised on Sunday.

Each farmer is expected to get ₹6,000 per annum under the Central scheme that was blocked by the Mamata Banerjee-led West Bengal government for over two years. At least 70 lakh farmers were denied the benefits to the tune of nearly ₹10,000 crore during this period.

Pending dues

“Our priority is to clear farmers’ dues. Once the BJP comes to power here, the first Cabinet meeting will approve all such payments including arrears of previous years,” the Prime Minister announced as he kicked off his election campaign for the poll-bound State, from the industrial town of Haldia — 120 kms from Kolkata.

The PM Kisan Samman Nidhi Scheme has become a bone of contention between the Centre and the State government. The Chief Minister objected to the concept of direct benefit transfer which formed the pivot of the Central scheme and announced a parallel scheme.

Recently, Banerjee agreed to implement the scheme after nearly 26 lakh farmers went ahead and registered themselves on a portal run by the Centre. This led the Union Agricultural Minister, Narendra Singh Tomar, to write to the State government seeking further details of beneficiaries.

However, the scheme has not been implemented as details of “just 6,000 beneficiaries” have been cleared; but their bank account details are yet to be confirmed at the State government level.

“The Trinamool-run State government has been able to verify details of just 6,000 of the 26 lakh farmers who self registered. And bank account details of even these beneficiaries were not shared with us. How will we transfer money? This is the level of apathy they have for farmers,” Modi said.

New projects

The Prime Minister also charged Trinamool Congress of “blocking other Central schemes” rather than focussing on development.

Modi inaugurated several infrastructure projects in the oil and gas sector – totalling ₹5,000 crore – which include the 348-km Dobhi-Durgapur natural gas pipeline (built by GAIL); an LPG import terminal of Bharat Petroleum and a four-lane road overbridge at Ranichak in Haldia as part of the port connectivity highway project. He also laid the foundation stone for the second catalytic dewaxing unit of IOC at Haldia.

The laying of gas pipelines under the Pradhan Mantri Urja Ganga Project will focus on reducing the price of natural gas. The projects will also ensure India as an “export-import centre” of gas.

“Gas-based economic system is India’’s need and ‘the One nation one gas grid is an important project to meet this requirement,” Modi said adding that the Dobhi- Durgapur gas pipeline will benefit 10 adjoining districts in Jharkhand and Bihar.

Questioning Banerjee’s intent on development, the Prime Minister asked why the state government has failed to bring in new industries during its nearly 10-year-long stint.

“The steel plant that was supposed to come up never saw the light of the day. Existing industrial units shut shop. The party in power here failed to bring development,” Modi alleged.

Published on February 07, 2021

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