New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi Saturday said the goal of making India a USD 5 trillion economy by 2024 is challenging but surely achievable, as he asked states to focus on their core competencies and work towards increasing the GDP right from the district level. In his inaugural address at the fifth meeting of the Governing Council of NITI Aayog here, the prime minister also underlined the need for taking effective steps to tackle drought in various parts of the country. Also Read – IAF receives its first Rafale fighter jet from France The meeting is being attended by senior union ministers and almost all the chief ministers, except Mamata Banerjee (West Bengal) and K Chandrashekhar Rao (Telangana). Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh who could attend the meeting due health reasons deputed his finance minister Manpreet Badal. Banerjee had earlier said she would not attend the meeting saying Niti Aayog is a “fruitless” body as it has no financial powers. Rao did not come as he was busy with preparations for the launch of the ambitious Rs 80,000 crore Kaleshwaram lift irrigation project that would end water woes in the state. Also Read – Cosmology trio win Nobel Physics Prize According to an official release, Modi recalled the recent General Elections as the world’s largest democratic exercise and said that it is now time for everyone to work for the development of India. He spoke of a collective fight against poverty, unemployment, drought, flood, pollution, corruption and violence. The prime minister said that everyone has a common goal of achieving a New India by 2022. He described Swachh Bharat Abhiyan and PM Awaas Yojana as illustrations of what the Centre and the states can accomplish together. Modi also said that empowerment, and ease of living, have to be provided to each and every Indian. He said the goals that have been set for the 150th anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, should be accomplished by October 2nd, and work should begin in the earnest towards the goals for 2022, the 75th anniversary of independence. Stressing that the focus should be on collective responsibility for achieving short term and long term goals, Modi said the goal to make India a USD 5 trillion economy by 2024, is “challenging, but can surely be achieved”. The size of India’s economy was estimated at USD 2.75 trillion at end-March 2019. States, he added should recognise their core competence, and work towards raising GDP targets right from the district level. He also stressed on increasing exports from the country. Amid drought-like situation in several parts of the country, Modi called for effective steps to tackle drought and emphasised that “per-drop, more-crop” strategy should be promoted. The release further said Modi reiterated the Union Government’s commitment to double incomes of farmers by 2022. To achieve this, he said there should be a focus on fisheries, animal husbandry, horticulture, fruits and vegetables. He said that the benefits of PM-KISAN – KisanSammanNidhi – and other farmer-centric schemes should reach the intended beneficiaries well within time. Noting that there is a need for structural reform in agriculture, Modi spoke of the need to boost corporate investment, strengthen logistics, and provide ample market support. He said the food processing sector should grow at a faster pace than foodgrain production. Referring to the left-wing extremism, Modi said the battle against Naxal violence is now in a decisive phase. “He said violence will be dealt with firmly, even as development proceeds in a fast-paced and balanced manner,” the release said quoting the prime minister. On the health sector, he said that several targets have to keep in mind, to be achieved by 2022. He also mentioned the target of eliminating Tuberculosis (TB) by 2025. The Prime Minister urged those states who have not implemented PMJAY under Ayushman Bharat, so far, to come onboard this scheme at the earliest. He said health and wellness should be the focal point of every decision. While welcoming the participants, Modi said Niti Aayog has a key role to play in fulfilling the mantra of SabkaSaath, SabkaVikas, SabkaVishwas. On aspirational districts, he said that the focus should be on good governance. He said the improvement in governance has led to remarkable progress in several aspirational districts. Giving several examples, Modi said out-of-the-box ideas, and innovative service delivery efforts in some of these districts have also delivered outstanding results. The Centre has embarked upon a major policy initiative for rapid transformation of 115 districts which are lagging on specific development parameters.