Government may make it optional for states to implement farm laws

By: |
January 8, 2021 1:15 AM

Ahead of the next round of talks with the farmers, scheduled Friday, the government is considering to make the controversial implementation of the farm laws optional for the states to break the stalemate over the six weeks-long protests by the farmers.

Already in 2018, the government had circulated the model draft agricultural produce market committee (APMC) law which only a few states bothered to implement and that too after tweaking the provisions.

Ahead of the next round of talks with the farmers, scheduled Friday, the government is considering to make the controversial implementation of the farm laws optional for the states to break the stalemate over the six weeks-long protests by the farmers. But a final call on the proposal will have to be taken at the highest level, a source said.

Baba Lakhhabal Singh of Nanaksar Gurdwara of Punjab met agriculture minister Narendra Singh Tomar at his residence on Thursday, where the minister is learnt to discussed the proposal.

“The proposal to make the laws optional had come up for discussion in one of the internal meetings in the agriculture ministry over a month back. However, it was felt that by making the laws optional their relevance would be lost and these Acts would then be just like model draft laws,” said a source in the government.

Already in 2018, the government had circulated the model draft agricultural produce market committee (APMC) law which only a few states bothered to implement and that too after tweaking the provisions, the source pointed out.

Meanwhile, thousands of farmers began a tractor-march from Singhu, Tikri and Ghazipur borders, intensifying their agitation against the three laws governing agriculture production and marketing. The farmers are sticking to their demand for the repeal of the three Acts and a legally guaranteed minimum support price (MSP) mechanism.

Since both the sides stuck to their positions in the last round of discussion, the government is believed to be mulling some middle path to resolve the vexatious issue and any decision will have to be approved at the highest level since the issue has become political, the source said adding the agriculture ministry’s role has been minimised now in the decision-making process.

The government is believed to have evaluated the legal implications of acceding to the key demands. Farmer leaders said that they are hopeful of some fruitful discussion on Friday, though chances are not bright since the government is not ready to concede the demand for the repeal. There is a possibility of some formula on MSP would be discussed in the next round. “We wanted to discuss the laws clause-wise, but farmer leaders insisted on the repeal of the laws,” agriculture minister Narendra Singh Tomar had said after the talks on January 4.

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