Centre offers 8 amendments to the agriculture law but farmers demand full repeal, fourth round of talks remain inconclusive
The agriculture law: The fourth round of talks on December 3 between Centre and farmer leaders, which went on for over seven hours, remained inconclusive by the end of day. The talks are to continue on December 5. But the deadlock between the farmers and Centre saw a rather stern outlook from the farmers who refused to consume any eatables or tea provided at Vigyan Bhavan by the government, and brought own food from gurudwara.
Centre, represented by Union Ministers, offered the farmer leaders with eight amendments to the controversial reform laws for consideration. Along with that they were also offered assurance that Minimum Support Prices (MSP) would continue for the farm produce. But farmer union leaders have decided to stay firm on their stand of demanding complete repeal of the three laws.
Multiple entry points to Delhi from Uttar Pradesh and Haryana have been blocked completely or partially by thousands of farmers, hailing mostly from Punjab and Haryana, for eighth consecutive day now. The farmers have been demanding scraping off the three agriculture reform laws. The main fear of them being that these laws are going to end the MSP, and are also demanding a new law that would guarantee MSPs. Another demand from farmers is that government must stop imposing huge fines on them for burning stubble, that is the major reason of increasingly poor air quality and pollution in the capital. Lastly, the demand is to withdraw 2020’s electricity bill.
After the meeting, Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh said in a media briefing, “The government has no ego. It is discussing all the issues with farmers with an open mind.”
Mr. Singh also listed the eight amendments that the government is willing to make to the reforms. These include “placing safeguards to ensure that land alienation is not possible via contract farming; strengthening the State-run mandi system and possibly equalising taxes in these markets and private markets; allowing grievance redressal in civil courts rather than just in the offices of Sub-Divisional Magistrates; and ensuring registration of private traders beyond the requirement of a PAN card.”
The farmer leaders said that the problems and their concerns with the laws are deep rooted and cannot be resolved with few tweaks. The 40 member farmers delegation’s only female member representing Mahila Kisan Adhikar Manch, Kavitha Kuruganti said, “When a law goes wrong in its objectives, then the provisions will also be wrong. The list of all the problems is so long that it is not worth keeping the law. A bad law will only become worse.”
Meanwhile, with continuing protests at the borders of National Capital, including Singhu, Chila, Tikri and Ghazipur, the borders remained shut for commuters. Thursday afternoon, Delhi Police Additional PRO Anil Mittal said, “Singhu, Lampur, Auchandi, Safiabad, Piano Maniyari, and Saboli borders are closed. Commuters should take alternate routes via NH-8, Bhopra, Apsara border and the Peripheral expressway.”