Chandigarh: With a view to supplementing the income of farmers, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Monday gave the go-ahead to launch a pilot project for Solar Energy generation on agricultural land on the rental basis, besides allowing farmers to undertake high-value cultivation of fruits and vegetables. 

Chairing a meeting with a CII delegation, led by its national president Rakesh Bharti Mittal, here at his official residence this evening, Captain Amarinder Singh also agreed to send a joint deputation from Punjab Energy Development Agency (PEDA) and senior officers from Agriculture and Horticulture Department to visit Maharashtra to examine a similar project developed there under the auspices of CII.

Director General CII Chandrajit Banerjee informed the Chief Minister that several private players were interested in setting up solar plants over the land of farmers for a minimum lease period of 25 years.

Underscoring the need to motivate farmers to move towards crop diversification, the Chief Minister hoped that the same project could be replicated in the Kandi area and south-west Punjab, especially in the citrus orchards and vegetable-growing belt in the vicinity of Ludhiana and Malerkotla.

The Chief Minister also approved a green building pilot project, as suggested by CII, and expressed his willingness to implement the concept in the upcoming Government Medical College and Hospital at Mohali. He asked his Principal Secretary to work out modalities in consultation with Punjab Urban Development Authority (PUDA) to evolve the necessary guidelines for making the concept mandatory for new government buildings to cut down substantially on the carbon footprint and also to save on energy.

Acceding to a request of the CII delegation, the Chief Minister asked his Principal Secretary to immediately initiate steps for expediting clearances for increasing the frequency of flights between Delhi and Ludhiana to boost trade and connectivity.

The Chief Minister lauded CII’s initiative in setting up a chain of Model Career Centres across India to impart career counselling, assessment, soft skills training to youth seeking jobs. He sought the industrial body’s help in upscaling his state’s youth to enable them to be gainfully employed not just in the country but also abroad.  Pointing out that the state was well equipped with a network of Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs), the Chief Minister said the youth could be suitably trained in different trades not only to cater to the specialised needs of local industry but also to serve as a ready market of trained labour in the country and abroad.

Evincing keen interest in developing the logistics sector in the state, the Chief Minister sought CII’s support for setting up a centre of excellence in Logistics to improve competitiveness in the sector and generate employment. Better logistics would also give an impetus to supplementing farmers’ income, through improved transportation and storage of perishable commodities like fruits, vegetables, milk & dairy products, fisheries and eggs, he added.

The CII president congratulated the Chief Minister for his path-breaking initiatives for industrial revival in the state. Mittal particularly lauded the formulation and implementation of new Industrial Policy in record time, reduction in power tariff, Punjab Startup and Entrepreneurship Policy 2017, and support to women-led startups. He assured the Chief Minister that CII would soon open model career centres in industrial towns by leveraging industrial linkages for placement. So far, nearly 55,000 candidates had been placed with over 1600 companies, he added.

The meeting was attended, among others, by Principal Secretary to CM Tejveer Singh, ACS Development Viswajeet Khanna, Principal Secretary Industries Rakesh Verma, CEO Invest Punjab Rajat Aggarwal. The visiting delegation was comprised Chairman CII Northern Region Sachit Jain, Chairman CII Punjab State Council Saravjeet Samra, Regional Director CII Northern Region Ankur Singh Chauhan, Head CII Punjab State Bhupinder Pal Kaur, and Deputy Director CII Punjab State Jagmeet Singh Bedi.