Farm Bills: Centre’s talk with protesting Punjab farmers remains inconclusive

By: |
November 14, 2020 3:00 AM

“As many of the farmers organisations were opposed to allowing passenger trains, a decision could not be taken in the meeting. We told the ministers that we would get back to them after discussing among us,” said a farmer leader of Krantikari Kisan Union.

All the representatives of the 30 farmer unions who participated in the meeting wanted revocation of the three Central laws reforming agricultural marketing.All the representatives of the 30 farmer unions who participated in the meeting wanted revocation of the three Central laws reforming agricultural marketing.

The dialogue with protesting Punjab farmers by the Centre remained inconclusive as both sides did not budge from their stated positions on the controversial farm laws, but agreed to continue the discussion in future. After a 7-hour meeting with agriculture minister Narendra Singh Tomar and railway minister Piyush Goyal, farmer leaders said that they would decide their next course of action on November 18 at a meeting in Chandigarh.

“As many of the farmers organisations were opposed to allowing passenger trains, a decision could not be taken in the meeting. We told the ministers that we would get back to them after discussing among us,” said a farmer leader of Krantikari Kisan Union. All the representatives of the 30 farmer unions who participated in the meeting wanted revocation of the three Central laws reforming agricultural marketing.

While the Centre indicated to set up a committee to look into their demands, farmer leaders wanted immediate restoration of goods trains movement in the state as they face severe shortages of fertilizers delaying rabi sowing.
The Centre asked them to allow movement of both goods and passenger trains. The agriculture ministry said in a statement that the talks were held in a cordial atmosphere and both sides agreed to continue to hold further discussions.

Tomar said that the new farm laws would not only provide freedom of choice to the farmers to sell their produce at remunerative price but also safeguard the interest of farmers. He listed out several measures the Centre has taken for the welfare of farmers.

Both the ministers told the farmer leaders that the procurement of farm produce on minimum support price (MSP) and the mandi system would continue as before. The new laws will encourage mandis to provide better services to the farmers, they said.

Punjab farmers are on strike, disrupting train services in protest against the three new laws of the Centre as they fear the procurement at MSP will be discontinued and mandis will be closed. After the state government’s intervention, farmers have agreed to clear railway tracks for movement of goods trains as Punjab has severe shortage of coal and fertilizer, the major two commodities transported via railways. However, the Centre is yet to resume goods trains and put a condition that passenger trains are also be allowed.

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