Friday, December 3, 2021
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Friday, December 3, 2021
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Centre Defends In Parliament Over Farm Laws. Says CMs Of Punjab, Bihar, Haryana And Bengal Were Consulted

The Centre told Parliament on Tuesday that recommendations from the chief ministers of Haryana, Punjab, Bihar, and West Bengal were considered before the three farm laws passed last year, which sparked long-running protests. It also stated that a group comprised of ministers from ten states was constituted in 2010 and proposed that the “monopoly” of Agriculture Produce Marketing Committees or corporate licensees be prohibited.

The Centre said this in response to a question from Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) lawmaker Harsimrat Kaur Badal to union agriculture minister Narendra Singh Tomar about whether Punjab objected to the laws’ framing during consultations held between 2017 and 2020 and whether it gave its consent to the legislation.

Tomar stated that the government saw the need to reform the agricultural marketing sector in order to ensure that farmers receive “better and competitive prices” and to boost capital development in the industry. He went on to say that the government established several groups, including an Empowered Committee of 10 state ministers in charge of farm marketing in 2010 and a Working Group of Agriculture Production in May 2010 for the purpose of recommending market reform measures. The agricultural produce market, according to Tomar, “must be immediately freed of all sorts of restrictions on movement, trading, stocking, finance, exports, etc.”

“The said Committee recommended that no monopoly, including that of Agriculture Produce Marketing Committees (APMCs) or corporate licensees should be allowed to restrict the market,” Tomar said. State governments were also consulted on the new legal framework permitting barrier-free inter-state and intra-state trading in agriculture produce via video conferencing in May 2020, he noted. Officials from states and union territories, including Punjab, were present, according to Tomar.

West Bengal was ruled by the Left Front from 2010 till the Trinamool Congress (TMC) took power a year later. The three agriculture laws have been criticised by both the left and the TMC. Haryana was ruled by the Congress until 2014, which was also opposed to the bill. From 2007 to 2017, the SAD ruled poll-bound Punjab and left the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government at the Centre over farm laws.

Growers protesting against the farm laws renewed the push for their repeal last month as they began a sit-in near Parliament. Thousands of them have camped on highways near Delhi for months in protest of the legislation, claiming that the restrictions imperil their livelihoods. During the ongoing Monsoon Session of Parliament, opposition members have protested against the farm laws.

Even as producers argue that the legislation favours private merchants by allowing them to acquire farm goods outside of government-regulated wholesale marketplaces, the government maintains that the rules, which were passed in September 2020, will enhance farmer revenue.

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