Govt not egoistic, holding discussions with farmers with an open mind: Tomar

Union agriculture minister Narendra Singh Tomar on Thursday said that the government is holding discussions with farmers with an open mind and holds no ego after the second round of discussions ended between the farmer groups and the union ministers.

Tomar also said that farmers are mainly concerned with the impact the laws would have on the Agricultural Produce Market Committee mandis. He said that the government is considering strengthening the APMC and contemplating levying an equal amount of tax for private mandis outside the purview of APMC as well as for APMC currently operating under the ambit of the APMC Act.

Tomar told ANI, “Some points have been raised in previous meetings & today’s meet. Farmer unions are mainly concerned about these. The Government has no ego, it was discussing with farmers with an open mind. Farmers are concerned that the new laws will end APMCs.”

He further said, “The government will contemplate seeing that APMC is further strengthened and its usage increases. New laws lay down provision for pvt mandis outside purview of APMC. So, we’ll also contemplate having an equal tax for pvt as well as mandis under APMC Act.”

Tomar also said that farmers can raise their issues with courts in case of disputes arising from the passage of these new farm laws. He said, “In the new Act, it has been provided that farmers can take their grievances to SDM court. Farmers’ Unions feel that SDM court is a lower court and they should be allowed to go to court. Government will consider this demand.”

Farmers’ groups, however, did not relent and said that emphasis still lies on repealing the new laws and the farmers will continue to raise their voices until the Centre decides to completely roll back the recently passed farm laws.

Farmer leader Baldev Singh Sirsa told ANI that farmers do not want amendments and remain firm on the demand that the new laws be repealed. Sirsa also said that the government had to admit that there are drawbacks in the recently passed laws.

He said, “We listed all drawbacks before the government, they had to admit that there are drawbacks & they’ll make amendments. We said we don’t want amendments but withdrawal of laws. We also demanded that MSP be implemented for certain and law should be made for it.”

Harjinder Singh Tanda of the Azaad Kisan Sangharsh Committee said that the farmers are hopeful that the government will take action. Tanda said that farmers’ groups will continue to pressurise the government and ask them to repeal the laws.

Tanda told ANI, “We are hopeful. The laws are wrong. In the next meeting, we will put pressure on the government. They will have to say that they will take back the laws. In my opinion, it will be finalised during the meeting day after tomorrow.”

The farmers’ group and the government will again hold another round of discussions on December 5. Farmers are protesting for more than a week against the three bills – Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill; the Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill; and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill. They fear their incomes will be in danger as private players can enter the market. They also fear that as APMCs will be impacted affecting the procurement of yields under the minimum support price system.

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