Govt invites farmers for fresh talks to end deadlock

Govt invites farmers for fresh talks to end deadlock

Farmers from Punjab and Haryana protesting against the three new agricultural laws made in September this year, continue to give 'dharna' at the Delhi-Haryana's Singhu Border. (Photo: IANS)

New Delhi, Dec 20 (IANS) The Centre has invited representatives of the protesting farmers for fresh talks to end the deadlock as their agitation against the new farm laws entered its 25th day on Sunday. The letter, written by Joint Secretary, Agriculture, Vivek Aggarwal to the farmers' representatives who had earlier participated in talks with the government, said: "Please provide a list of apprehensions and give appropriate dates so fresh talks can be initiated in Vigyan Bhavan so that the protest ends soon." In the letter, the government said that it is serious about farmers issues and had held many rounds of talks and also that it is trying to talk to farmers' unions separately and take their feedback. The government had held five rounds of talks with the farmers' union with the last one held with Union Home Minister Amit Shah but the farmers had rejected the offers given by the government. The farmers, on December 9, had unanimously rejected the proposed amendments suggested by the Centre to the three controversial farm laws and had sought a complete rollback of the laws. The government communicated its stand through a written draft proposal to the farmers in which it agreed to two main amendments regarding the minimum support price (MSP) and the Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC), but rejected their demand to repeal the laws. In its proposal, the Centre had agreed to a written assurance on the MSP and a uniform tax for private market yard and APMC -- a marketing board established by state governments to ensure that farmers are safeguarded from exploitation by large retailers, as well as ensuring that farm to retail price does not touch excessively high levels. According to the proposal, there would be a provision for registration for private traders dealing in agricultural produce. The government had also given an assurance on framing new rules under which state governments would be given the power to come up measures on registration for the welfare of the farmers. The government had also sought to clear the misconception on the APMC Act that farmers will be caught in the clutches of private mandis and the mandis established by the mandi committees will weaken. It proposed a provision that the state governments will ensure similar rate of "cess fee" in private as well as APMC mandis. Clearing the apprehension among the farmers that big industrialists will take over farmers' lands and the farmers will be landless, the government's proposal said that it is already clear in the new law that neither can any loan be availed by the buyer on the structure to be built on the farmer's land nor such structure can be held hostage by him. On the issue that there is no system of registration of agricultural contracts, the government said if the trader is not registered, he has to file a copy within 30 days regarding the deal with the farmers. The government also said that those approaching the civil courts would now be allowed. Earlier, any dispute would go to the district administration. The government's proposal clarified that the provisions in the new laws are very clear and it will release them and publicise them in a clearer manner if there is any confusion on the issue. It had reiterated it is ready to consider the provisions of the laws on which the farmers have raised objections but ruled out any repeal. On the Electricity Amendment Act 2020, the government has assured that the Act would not be implemented and the earlier process would be maintained as status quo. On the farmers' demand to take back the law on stubble burning, the government said it will come up with a proper arrangement on the subject.

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