Union Cooperation Minister Amit Shah on Sunday said the cooperative movement in Gujarat is a matter of pride, and spoke about how some ministers from other countries were surprised by the turnover figures of the Amul dairy cooperative brand.
Shah was addressing a large gathering of milk producers here in Panchmahal district after remotely inaugurating two plants set up by the Godhra-based Panchamrut Dairy (Panchmahal District Co-operative Milk Producers' Union Ltd) in Ujjain in Madhya Pradesh and Malegaon in Maharashtra, among other projects.
"Today, the co-operative movement in Gujarat is a matter of pride," Shah said. The minister said leaders from across the country and abroad are surprised when he talks about Amul, or the Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation (GCMMF), an umbrella organisation of 18 district milk cooperative unions in the state with 36.4 lakh members.
"Two ministers from Australia and the Netherlands came back to tell me that they got the data provided by me (on Amul) cross-checked on a website whether it was correct or not. Such a huge cooperative movement...Rs 60,000 crore turnover through a cooperative movement, nobody imagined this," Shah said.
Ahead of the Gujarat Assembly elections due later this year, Shah also targeted the previous Congress-led dispensation at the Centre for ignoring the pleas of cooperative leaders for government support.
Let alone assistance, the previous Congress government even failed to create an environment where cooperative bodies do not face injustice, he said.
"To give priority to the sector, (Prime Minister) Narendrabhai Modi formed the Ministry of Cooperation. He also increased the budget for cooperatives seven times, removed some taxes in the sugar sector, reduced the MAT (minimum alternate tax) to 15 from 18 per cent, and surcharge to 7 from 12 per cent on cooperative organisations," Shah said.
He also targeted the opposition Congress for not providing constitutional status to the Other Backward Classes (OBCs) in 70 years of its rule, "something that the Narendra Modi government did" through 123rd amendment (in Constitution).
Many welfare scheme of the Centre are for the OBCs, Dalits and tribals, he noted. He said the Narendra Modi government has brought many reforms for the OBC community, and talked about the 123rd Constitutional Amendment Bill that grants constitutional status to the National Commission on Backward Classes (NCBC).
The Centre has come up with a project to computerise cooperative societies and connect them directly to NABARD (National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development), for which Rs 6,500 crore has been provisioned, he said.
"I would tell you as the Minister of Cooperation that through the Cooperative Ministry, there is going to be a huge revolution in the area in next five years under the leadership of Modiji," he said.
Shah said several steps are being taken in this direction, like creation of a database, training, reduction in taxes and reforming existing laws.
He said the projects which he inaugurated for the Panchamrut Dairy will go on to strengthen the cooperative movement in Gujarat's Panchmahal, Mahisagar and Dahod districts that are covered by the Panchamrut Dairy.
The Union minister also appealed to milk producers in the three districts to adopt natural farming fast, and informed that Amul has set a target to establish laboratories to examine land (for organic farming) and organic products.
Shah also inaugurated the newly constructed building of the Panchmahal District Cooperative Bank in Godhra and launched mobile ATM vans for people living in rural areas in the district.