The protest leading farmers’ Organisation, Samyukt Kisan Morcha, which met here on Wednesday, rejected the suggested changes proposed by the government in the controversial farm laws. On Wednesday morning, the Centre sent out potential amendments to the laws that could be brought about if farmers were willing to end their agitation.
The farmers’ leaders’ meeting here unanimously rejected the government’s offer and agreed that the protest would not end until the government enacts the Laws, said a farmer’s leader.
In a discussion chaired on Tuesday night by Home Minister Amit Shah, the government proposed that it could submit the drafted proposals for a decision to the protesting farmers. These suggested changes include slapping a cessation on private mandis, registration of each contract farming agreement with the State Government, compulsory registration with the State Government by private traders operating outside mandis, and enabling farmers to go to the civil court to appeal if Sub-Divisional Magistrate (SDM) fails to settle the disputes satisfactorily.
The government has also promised in writing that the existing minimum support price system would continue as well as accepted not to go forward with the controversial 2020 Electricity Amendment Bill.
Concern among farmers
As farmers felt that Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC) mandis would be weakened over time and private mandis would start exploiting farmers over time, the Centre said it might look at an amendment to the Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act 2020.
Under this provision, all private mandis operating in a State may be required to register with the Government of the State and the same cessation or tax may also be made applicable to private mandis in the APMC mandis.
Similarly, private traders who were previously permitted to operate only on the basis of the PAN card or Aadhaar card they have may now be required, on the basis of local requirements, to obey the laws passed by state assemblies.
Farmers may also be given the opportunity to approach civil courts if they are not pleased with the resolution of disputes offered by local SDMs. It also agreed to write that the existing MSP structure will continue, even after these Actions have come into force, despite what farmers fear.
Act on Contract Farming
The Centre also suggested that the Contract Farming Act should be amended in such a way that the agreements between farmers and processors or agribusiness companies would be submitted to the SDM office within 30 days after the deals are signed before the state governments come up with rules to register these contracts.
This also assured farmers that no attempt would be made to amend the current Electricity Act, under which farmers get power at subsidised rates in many States.
Also it vowed to resolve the concerns of farmers from Punjab and Haryana regarding penalties for burning stubble satisfactorily. The National Capital Region (NCR) and Surrounding Areas Ordinance’s Air Quality Control has slapped a Rs 1 crore fine and jail term for those in the national capital region who contribute to foul air quality.