Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday said that the government had brought down the annual inflation rate to below 6 per cent and was now working with the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to bring it to 4 per cent, the plus-minus 2 percentage points range.
Delivering his third Independence Day address from the ramparts of Red Fort, Modi backed the 4 per cent inflation target, within a range of 2 percentage points either way, set for the next five years under the monetary policy framework agreement with the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).
"It is true that during the time of previous government, inflation rate had crossed 10 per cent. Our continuous efforts have ensured that inflation rate does not rise above 6 per cent," he said.
He attributed the spike in vegetable prices to two consecutive droughts that impacted supplies but said efforts have been made to contain it.
"I will continue to make efforts to ensure that the food plate of poor is not affected (by inflation)," he said.
On the spike in prices of pulses this year, he said sowing of pulses this year has risen by 1.5 times and with good monsoon and efforts like Minimum Support Price and bonus to farmers as well as increasing availability will make things better.
While monsoon has been good this year, excess rainfall has caused problems at some places, he said, adding the government was fully committed to helping such states.
Modi said unlike past governments, he has stayed away from populist measures and instead relied on empowerment.
The Prime Minister said efforts by his government have led to 99.5 per cent of past dues of sugarcane farmers in Uttar Pradesh being cleared and 95 per cent of crop being sold this season being already paid for.
Also, record urea production has meant that blackmarketing of the crop nutrient is a thing of past, he said, adding that farmers are being given crop insurance cover on minimum premium.
Godown capacity of 15 lakh tonnes has been constructed to store crops and emphasis is being laid on all food processing and agro based industries to raise farm incomes.
Hundred per cent FDI has been permitted in food processing. "These steps will help realise the target of doubling farmers' income by 2022," he said.
"I have resisted from resorting to populist schemes," Modi said.
On initiatives taken by his government, he said income tax refund which used to take years and often be obtained by paying bribes is now online and is automatically transfered to the bank account within 1 to 3 weeks.
Registration of companies, which used to take six months is now being done in 24 hours. "In last July, more than 900 registration of companies has been done," he said.
Government's emphasis on non-polluting renewable energy has meant that generation from wind has gone up by 40 per cent in last one year and that from solar by as much as 16 per cent.
"This is not an incremental change but a high jump. We want to increase to quantum jump," he said, adding, laying of transmission lines, to transport electricity from production sites to consumption centres, has been expedited to 50,000 km per year from previous 30,000-35,000 km.
Of the 18,000 unelectrified villages, power has reached 10,000, he said citing the example of Nagla Padam village which is a three hours drive from the national capital and has been without electricity since Independence.
To conserve power, the government has taken up distribution of LED bulbs on a massive scale and price of the same has been brought down to Rs 50 from Rs 350 previously, he said adding 13 crore bulbs have been distributed so far.
The Prime Minister said 20,000 megawatt of electricity worth Rs 1.25 lakh crore can be saved annually after the target of distributing 77 crore LED bulbs is achieved.
This, he said, would prevent global warming and protect the environment.
As against 14 crore people being issued cooking gas LPG connections in 60 years, about 4 crore new LPG connections have been released in 60 weeks, he said.
Under the Ujjwala Yojana, nearly 50 lakh new LPG connections have been issued to the poor free of cost in last 100 days and at this pace the target of 5 crore connections would be achieved much before the scheduled 3 year period.
Stressing that 70 crore people now have Aadhaar cards, he said 21 crore people have been connected with the financial inclusion scheme with opening of bank accounts under Jan Dhan Yojana.
With PTI Inputs