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Sarkar for agriculture, industry

- Push for balanced growth

Agartala, March 18: Tripura chief minister Manik Sarkar today stressed the need for growth of both industry and agriculture while outlining the development programmes planned in the state under the seventh Left Front government.

Stressing the importance of balanced development of agriculture and industry to resolve the livelihood problems of the state’s residents, he said, “We need industrialisation in the state in the interest of development and to resolve the problem of unemployment among educated youths but unless growth rate in agriculture picks up, we will be confronting a daunting but different set of problems.”

He was speaking during the debate on governor D.Y. Patil’s speech delivered on the opening day of the Assembly on March 15.

Sarkar, however, broadly hinted that the state government was not happy with the growth rate achieved during the 10-year perspective plan for increased agricultural production between 2002 and 2012 and attributed the less-than-expected growth in agricultural productivity to the slow pace of development in irrigation. “The state government is trying its best to expand irrigational facilities but despite our best efforts, the pace of work is not gaining the desired momentum. We are now prioritising this sector and hopefully, this will yield better results soon.”

Referring to the rise in purchasing power of the state’s people, Sarkar said, “It is now comparable with that of people in economically advanced states of the country.”

Sarkar said the growth rate of per capita income of the state’s residents was higher than the national average between 2007-08 and 2011-12. “We are still short of the national average per capita income but the growth rate has been higher and we hope to go past the national average very soon,” he said.

He cited lack of flow of funds from Centre as the major reason for lack of progress in several sectors, particularly at the infrastructure level.

“Flow of funds for infrastructure development is not what it should have been. The Assam-Agartala national highway (NH44) is not being turned into a double lane and the alternative highway proposed by us is not being constructed. Upgrade of the metre gauge railway line to broad-gauge is also not happening. These are few instances but we hope the Centre will co-operate,” he said.

Stressing the need for preserving the ecological balance in the state, the chief minister urged upon all to be more sensitive towards protecting nature.

While not directly criticising the Congress’s decision to boycott the entire session of the Assembly, Sarkar took an indirect dig saying, “It is incomprehensible why friends of the Opposition are boycotting the Assembly.”