India / Centre says will give written assurance on MSP in proposal to farmers

Zoom News : Dec 09, 2020, 05:41 PM
New Delhi: As thousands of farmers continue to protest at various border points in Delhi demanding the Centre to repeal the three new farm laws, the government on Wednesday proposed to give a "written assurance" to the farmers that the existing minimum support price (MSP) system will continue.

The government also proposed to make necessary amendments on at least seven issues, including one to allay fears about the weakening of the mandi system.

In its draft proposal sent to 13 agitating farmer unions, the government also said it is ready to provide the farmers with all necessary clarifications about the new farm laws enacted in September, but it did not mention anything about repealing the farm laws.

"The government has tried to address the concerns of farmers with an open heart and with respect for the farming community of the country. The government appeals to the farm unions to end their agitation," the proposal stated.

On farmers' fears that mandis would weaken after the new laws, the government said an amendment can be made wherein state governments can register the traders operating outside mandis. States can also impose tax and cess as they used in APMC (Agricultural Produce Market Committee) mandis on them, officials said.

On concerns that farmers may be duped as anyone possessing a pan card can trade outside APMC mandis, the government said to rule out such apprehensions, the state governments can be given the power to register such traders and formulate rules keeping in mind the local situation of farmers.

On the issue of farmers not getting the right to appeal in civil courts for dispute resolution, the government said it is open to making an amendment to provide for an appeal in civil courts. Currently, the dispute resolution occurs at the SDM level.

On fears that big corporates will take over farmlands, the government said it has already been made it clear in the laws that no such thing will be allowed, and suggested that it can give in writing that no buyer can take loans against farmland nor any such condition will be made to farmers.

On attaching farmland under contract farming, the government said the existing provision is clear but still it can be clarified further if required.

On demands to scrap the proposed Electricity Amendment bill 2020, the government said there won't be any change in the existing system of electricity bill payment for farmers.

On farmers' demand to scrap the Air Quality Management of NCR Ordinance 2020, under which there is the provision of penalty for stubble burning, the government said it is ready to find an appropriate solution.

The draft proposal has been sent to 13 farm union leaders including to Joginder Singh Urgrahan of the Bharatiya Kisan Union.

"Farmer unions have received the draft proposal from the government," Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) national spokesperson Rakesh Tikait told PTI. He is one of the many union leaders participating in the ongoing negotiations with the government.

The government has proposed seven amendments in the two new laws -- The Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020 and The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020. However, it has not touched The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020 at all.

Union Home Minister Amit Shah during Tuesday night's meeting with 13 union leaders had said that the government would issue a draft proposal taking into consideration key issues raised by the farmers regarding the three farm laws.

Tuesday’s meeting had failed to break the ice with farm union leaders who have said that they will settle for nothing other than the scrapping of the legislations.

Meanwhile, the sixth round of talks between the government and farm union leaders, which was scheduled for Wednesday morning, was cancelled.