Prime Minister Narendra Modi called upon political parties to set aside differences and help implement the river-linking project. Modi was addressing a farmers’ convention organised by the BJP in Belagavi on Saturday.
Modi, who was giving details of the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana, an crop insurance scheme in light of 1,000 farmer suicides in Karnataka in the past one year, said river-linking would save the country and help overcome water scarcity. “We must shed our differences and make up our minds to link rivers. Rivers, during floods, destroy crops and when they dry up, leave the farmers worried,” he said.
“After Independence, had water management been given preference, farmers would not have committed suicide due to crop failure during drought and natural calamities. Water, if available, will help farmers reap gold from every drop,” he said.
He said the government has been giving a thrust for ‘Krishi Sinchan’ programmes and has provided funds of Rs 50,000 crore to provide facilties to farmers. “Water management is needed. Many countries with scanty rain and without rivers have shown that good agriculture is possible with water management. Israel has achieved agriculture revolution.”
Every drop of water needs to be conserved. Water cannot be manufactured in factories and it’s a gift of God which needs to be respected. Changes have been made in the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme and stress has been given on asset creation with priority for water projects like canal repairs, creation of check dams and lake conservation. It would improve water table. Methods like per drop, more crop of irrigation are vital and have helped farmers immensely, Modi said.
Drip irrigation, sprinkler-based system and micro agriculture programmes need to be implemented. Farmers should shed their concept of maximum use of water for irrigation. Micro irrigation has been showing results and sprinkler systems for sugarcane have improved yield. Water conserved from these forms of agriculture practice could be used for other purposes, he stated.
Soil health card systems have been brought into effect and it has been hoped to provide all the farmers cards by 2017 when the nation marks its 70 years of independence. Use of chemical fertilisers has been degrading agriculture lands. Soil samples collected from different lands and test reports would be made available to farmers that would guide them for taking remedial measures to change crop pattern, fertilsiers and other measures, Modi said and called young innovators to invent systems that would help the farmers test soil on their land. He also asked them to establish soil testing laboratories at taluk level for which government would provide funds from the Mudra Bank.
“We have stopped theft of fertilisers. Another initiative we began was neem coated urea, which was only on paper until now. Earlier states used to write to the Centre for fertilisers, but since we took office, there has been no scarcity of urea. Those raising a voice against me were the elements who were earlier raking benefits by blackmarketing urea. As promised, we are not allowing anyone to loot government coffers,” he said.