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    Farm laws stir: Breakthrough as govt accepts two demands of farmers

  • Date : 31 December, 2020

    The widely anticipated sixth round of talks finally led to some headway in the standoff between the Union government and protesting farm unions on Wednesday, with the Centre acceding to the demand to spare farmers heavy fines for crop-residue burning, as provided for in an anti-pollution ordinance, and to continue the current mechanism of giving subsidised power for agricultural use.

    However, with the two principal demands of a repeal of three new farm laws and a legal guarantee of minimum support prices yet to be discussed, the light at the end of the tunnel is still faint. The government also offered to form a five-member panel to examine the farm laws, which was also rejected by the farmers. “On the farm unions’ demand for the repeal of farm laws, the (agriculture) minister said that this too can be referred to a committee which will study the constitutional validity and propriety keeping in mind the welfare of farmers,” a government statement said.

    The farm unions have been asking the government to scrap three new agricultural laws approved by Parliament in September, and to bring a new legislation guaranteeing that all farm produce be bought at federally fixed assured rates. The government did not take up these core demands on Wednesday, deferring them till the next round of talks on January 4, which the farmers have agreed to participate in.

     

    When farmers raised the issue of repealing the farm laws, the government side asked the union leaders to come up with “alternatives” to a roll-back of the laws, an official aware of the discissions said, requesting anonymity. The farmers rejected this proposal, and insisted that their protest on the outskirts of Delhi would continue until the laws were repealed.

    Agriculture minister Narendra Singh Tomar also asked the farm leaders to detail what their issues with the three laws were, the official added.

    On the issue of a legal backing for MSP, the government “proposed to form a committee to look into the demand, which we rejected”, said Kavitha Kuruganti, the lone woman representative of farmers who participated in the talks.Union ministers Tomar, Piyush Goyal and Som Parkash led the government side, while 41 leaders of farm unions represented the farmers.

    Progress was made when the three ministers declared that the government would keep farmers out of the Delhi-NCR anti-pollution ordinance, and make changes in the draft Electricity Amendment Bill 2020 to protect their interests.

    The anti-pollution ordinance invoked in October has harsh provisions to fine polluters up to ?1 crore, including farmers. The burning of crop residue is one of the major causes of severe pollution in northern India.

    The government had also proposed to switch to giving direct cash to farmers instead of power subsidy, which farm unions had opposed, saying the move will increase irrigation costs. The government agreed not to go ahead with this change.

    “We have been able to agree on two out of four major demands. There were mutual agreements on the electricity amendment bill and on keeping farmers out of the anti-pollution ordinance,” farm minister Tomar said.

    Source: HindustanTimes

     
 















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EDITOR'S NOTE

13 Jul 2020

Uniting India's farmers: FPOs will strengthen the rural economy

The proposed creation of ten thousand new Farmers’ Producer Organizations (FPOs) until 2023-24 by the government is a big step in the right direction. The empowerment of farmers in a country where 86 perce