New Delhi: After farmers’ unions proposed a meeting with the Central Government on December 29 to break the impasse over the Farm Laws, the government on Monday invited 40 protesting farmer unions for the next round of talks a day later, on December 30. The Centre seeks to discuss all relevant issues to find a “logical solution” to the current situation.
In a letter to the unions, Agriculture Secretary Sanjay Aggarwal invited them for talks at 2 pm on December 30 at Vigyan Bhavan in the national capital. So far, five rounds of formal talks held between the Centre and the 40 protesting farmer unions have remained inconclusive.
Taking note of the unions' offer to resume talks, Aggarwal said: “The government is also committed to finding a logical solution on all relevant issues with a clear intention and an open mind.”
In June, when the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic was unfolding, the Modi government promulgated three ordinances that sought to change the pre-existing system of cultivation, trade, stock-holding and prices of agricultural produce. These were then pushed through Parliament in September.
The contentious Farm Laws passed by the Centre are the Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020; the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020; and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020.
The farmers fear that these laws will leave India’s agriculture sector open to predatory agri-businesses and big traders while crushing the farmers. They are also fearful that minimum support price (MSP) will be done away with.
It's been over a month now that thousands of farmers, especially from Punjab, Haryana and parts of Uttar Pradesh, are camping at Delhi borders seeking repeal of the three farm laws. They have threatened to intensify their stir in the coming days if their demands are not fulfilled.
They have received widespread support since they issued the call for ‘Delhi Chalo’. Farmers from Maharashtra travelled for close to 1,300 kms to Delhi to register their protest. Farmers from Kerala, who had been on an indefinite Satyagraha for two weeks against the contentious laws, had expanded their protest to include each district centre in the state from December 23. Those from Gujarat have also come out in support.
On December 17, ten noted economists wrote to Narendra Singh Tomar, Minister of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare, asking the government to repeal the Farm Laws. They said the laws were “not in the best interests of the small and marginal farmers of the country, and about which a broad section of farmer organisations have raised very critical objections.”
They said the three laws were “based on wrong assumptions and claims about why farmers are unable to get remunerative prices, about farmers not having freedom to sell wherever they like under the previously existing laws, and about regulated markets not being in the farmers’ interests.”
With PTI inputs