Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh today said the government is mulling the creation of district cadres for teachers to ensure that they remain posted in the same area, thus leading to social pressures on them to perform. He stated this during discussions with researchers and professors of the Centre for Research in Rural and Industrial Development (CRRID) here on a range of issues, including education and skill development, raising farm incomes and crop diversification. The state government is also trying to involve corporates in a big way to boost the standard of education in the state through their CSR (corporate social responsibility) programmes, an official release said here. Expressing concern over the challenges in education in the state, especially in rural areas, the Chief Minister underlined the need to take up its upgradation on top priority, the release said. The government was exploring various avenues to raise the quality of both, school and higher education, and also to empower youngsters with the necessary skills to make them gainfully employable, said Amarinder. The state government was planning to use ITIs as skill centres after their closing time at 5 pm to provide state-wide skill development facilities to youth, he said, listing it as one of the ways in which the available resources were being optimized to maximise benefit, in view of the constrained fiscal condition of the state. CRRID, on its part, suggested an employment policy to enable the state government to intervene in matters related to employment. Pointing out that Punjab was giving the maximum loan waiver despite the financial problems faced by the government, the Chief Minister said while crop diversification was the key to resolve the agrarian crisis, the depleting water levels were a serious hurdle. Amarinder Singh said while the suggestion of Union Minister Nitin Gadkari to go in for corn/maize-based ethanol was good, the problem was that the state did not have sufficient funds to extend the support price to the same. The Center should send companies that are interested in converting corn/maize to ethanol, he stressed. Noting that his government was working on an agriculture policy for the state, the Chief Minister asked CRRID also to send in their suggestions to make it more holistic and impactful. He welcomed the CRRID suggestion for the state to have a water policy as well. While CRRID mooted the idea of setting up a water regulatory authority in Punjab, the Chief Minister called for an aggressive movement for harvesting rain water. Water continued to be a critical issue for the state, he observed, adding that power, being surplus in both state and national grids, was no longer a matter of concern. Prominent among those present at the discussions were Chairman Governing Body CRRID, Professor R P Bambah and Executive Vice-Chairman, Dr Rashpal Malhotra, among others.
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