Ahmedabad: Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi slammed the union government on Tuesday for its proposed free trade agreement with the European Union (EU) and said it would destroy the country`s domestic dairy sector.
"The central government plans to sign a free trade agreement with the EU which will force our country to import milk and milk products from them. That will destroy domestic the country`s dairy sector," Modi said, while addressing the Gujarat Co-operative Congress here today.
"This (UPA) government is bent upon destroying the agriculture-based animal husbandry and dairy culture of our country, as it has decided to go ahead with the free trade agreement by keeping the domestic co-operative dairy and animal husbandry sector in dark," he alleged.
Due to the agreement, milk and milk products would be dumped in the country and that would harm India`s domestic and co-operative sector, he alleged.
Alleging that the central government had adopted a "discriminatory" policy against Gujarat`s co-operative sector, Modi said that despite Gujarat`s capacity to provide milk to many other states, the central government had "refused" to make railway milk tanker facilities available.
"Poor people are not in the priority list of this central government," he alleged. Modi criticised the central government for not heeding a demand to reduce interest rates for farmers in Gujarat who faced crop failure due to delayed monsoons last year.
"We requested that interest rates on loans from nationalised banks be reduced from seven per cent to four per cent, but that was never considered by this anti-poor central government," he alleged.
Modi also criticised the decision of National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) to put all primary agriculture co-operative societies (PACS) under the control of district co-operative banks, alleging that "this clearly shows the central government is undermining the federal structure of our nation".
"The co-operative sector comes under the purview of states and despite this, the central government took this major decision without taking states into confidence or consulting them," he alleged.
In its July 22 circular, NABARD had advised that PACS will not accept deposits on its account and not undertake lending operations of any kind on its behalf.
This had triggered widespread protests in Gujarat`s co-operative sector which felt that this arrangement would undermine the role of primary agriculture cooperative societies (PACS) as lenders to the farming community in the rural co-operative banking structure.
The one-day Gujarat Co-operative Congress, which is held every third year by the state co-operative federation, was attended by more then 3,000 office bearers of different co-operative societies of the state.