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No further hike in wheat MSP: Pawar
Nirmal Sandhu
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 13
Union agriculture minister Sharad Pawar today ruled out any further hike in the minimum support price of wheat, any more bonus for paddy and a duty cut for edible oils.

Agriculture, he said, has grown at more than 4 per cent in the past two years and the number of farmers committing suicide has declined due to higher farm prices, greater investment in agriculture, expansion of irrigation and the doubling of institutional credit in the past three years.

Speaking at the Economic Editorsí Conference here, he said the UPA government had raised the wheat MSP by Rs 250 in three years. The previous government had hiked it by Rs 50 only in five years.

He was responding to the criticism that the government was importing wheat at a higher price than what it was paying to local farmers. The government, he said, was not happy to import wheat, but the countryís food security was important.

Admitting the diversion of foodgrains meant for the public distribution system, he, however, did not accept a reporterís suggestion to scrap the corruption-ridden PDS.

More airports

The country will have 20 more airports next year. In 2004 there were 50 airports. Now there are 80 and by next year the number will rise to 100. Domestic aviation was growing 40 per cent annually.

Addressing economic editors here today, aviation minister Praful Patel said the focus now was on promoting regional airports and carriers to decongest the metro airports. Thirtyfive non-metro airports have been identified for upgradation and only private parties will take up all future airport projects. The world-class airports at Bangalore and Hyderabad will be ready by March, 2008.

Admitting the shortage of skilled staff and inconveniences faced by travellers at crowded airports, he said the new policy framework will boost infrastructure, especially logistics, to meet growing cargo needs for domestic and foreign markets.

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