Farm Laws: Farmer unions reject govt’s offers, to intensify protests in coming days

By: |
December 10, 2020 7:15 AM

The only redeeming feature is the farmers said they would consider the governments’ proposals if revised, but in the same breath, they also iterated the singular demand the laws be repealed.

Farmers Protest Live, Indian Farmers Protest Live Update“MSP is the main demand. There is no meaning of MSP without legal guarantee,” said V M Singh, the convenor of All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee (AIKSCC). (Photo source: IE)

The rift between the government and the agitating farmers over the recently enacted agriculture/farm-trade laws remained wide open on Wednesday, even after the former formally made a clutch of proposals to remedy the situation. Farmer unions ‘rejected’ the Centre’s offers and said they would ‘intensify’ the protest in the coming days.

The only redeeming feature is the farmers said they would consider the governments’ proposals if revised, but in the same breath, they also iterated the singular demand the laws be repealed.

A day after home minister Amit Shah conveyed the Centre’s decision to make some offers to amend the laws to address the farmers’ apprehensions and not to withdraw the laws, Vivek Agarwal, a joint secretary in agriculture ministry wrote a letter, where specific offers are annexed, to 13 farmer leaders.

The government agreed to make a written assurance regarding the continuance of the present system of procurement at minimum support price (MSP).

Among other concessions offered to farmers, the government said it would amend the laws to empower states to make rules for registration of traders, and levy same fees/cess as in APMC mandis on private market yards. Also, dispute resolution would be brought under the judiciary and credit against infrastructure built on contracted farm land would be disallowed to allay the farmer’s fears of loss of possession/ownership of their lands.

Also, the government would ensure continuation of current electricity payment system even after amendment in the law concerned. On another critical concern on heavy penalty proposed for stubble burning, the government said the issue would be suitably addressed. An Ordinance in this regard was promulgated after an order of the National Green Tribunal, wherein Rs 1 crore penalty and five years imprisonment were proposed for stubble burning.

“We had made clear our demands — repeal of 3 farm laws and promulgation of new Ordinance guaranteeing MSP. However, the government’s proposals talked about other issues without clarity. All farmers organisations have decided to intensify the protest till the laws are withdrawn,” said Shiv Kumar Sharma, president of Shiv Kumar Sharma, president of Rashtriya Kisan Mahashangha.

Echoing the sentiment, Darshan Pal, president of Punjab’s Krantikari Kisan Union, said the Delhi-Jaipur highway would be blocked on December 12 and all the entry points to Delhi would be closed. Also protests will be held across the country on December 14.

“MSP is the main demand. There is no meaning of MSP without legal guarantee,” said V M Singh, the convenor of All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee (AIKSCC). The protest would continue till the demand is accepted, said Singh, who is leading a gathering of thousands of farmers on Uttar Pradesh-Delhi border.

However, officials in agriculture ministry pointed out that the proposals have been mooted after five rounds of discussion with farmers over the concerns raised by them on different provisions of the new farm laws, draft Electricity Amendment Bill and the Air Quality ordinance for NCR region.

Meanwhile five opposition leaders including Rahul Gandhi (Congress), Sharad Pawar (NCP), D Raja (CPI) and Sitaram Yechury (CPM) met president Ram Nath Kovind on Wednesday and demanded repeal of the three farm laws. Speaking to media after the meeting, Gandhi said: “We (opposition parties) are with the farmers and they should continue the protest till the laws are withdrawn otherwise they will not get another opportunity.”

Thousands of farmers from Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand are protesting at different inter-state entry points of Delhi since November 26, blocking traffic and goods movement in the national capital region, threatening to disrupt supply of essential items. A scheduled meeting with a ministerial panel could not take place on Wednesday as the government offered them some concrete proposals so that the next round of meeting becomes fruitful.

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