Chhattisgarh Assembly passed the Chhattisgarh Krishi Upad Mandi (Amendment) Bill 2020 which gives powers to the state government to regulate all agricultural produce markets, introduces a new concept of deemed markets which includes cold storages and silos, makes provision for establishment of an electronic trading place under the state control, makes it mandatory for a purchaser to submit his records and stocks for inspection and introduces jail term extending upto six months for violation of the legislation. The government justified the introduction of the amendment Bill by saying, “…In order to ensure the right price, right weighing and timely payment of produce, the establishment of a deemed market and electronic trading platform has become necessary for the protection of the farmer interest.”
The amendment Bill was passed with an overwhelming majority after a day-long special session which saw fiery speeches by chief minister Bhupesh Baghel and former chief minister and senior BJP leader Raman Singh. The two-day special Assembly session was truncated as the legislative business was completed with the passing of the Amendment Bill. Baghel compared Centre’s legislations with chit fund saying the farm legislations may look attractive in the beginning but they would spell disaster in the long run. He lobbed the ball in the Governor’s court saying it was upto her to sign on the legislation clearly indicating that the state government had little hope.
The state government has introduced the concept of deemed market and given state agencies control over these. Deemed markets would include cold storage, silos, warehouse, electronic trading and transaction platforms. With the amendment, the state government hopes to limit the entry of any corporate or private entity as it would control all these operations. At the same time, if a private entity enters into agreement with farmers, it would have to submit its accounts and stocks to state scrutiny. Another amendment has also given the state government the power to have an electronic trading platform where the farmers of the state or another state can buy or sell their agricultural produce. This neutralises the Centre’s provision of agriculture trade without boundaries. “The state government may, establish an electronic trading platform for the sale of notified agriculture produce, farmer/Seller should sell his produce to the local market as well as other markets of the state and traders of other states through a transparent auction process on the basis of quality to get better price and timely online payment.”
Baghel said, “This amendment Bill does not negate the farm legislations of the Centre but it protects the farmers. The special session has been called so that the people know, the farmers know what we are doing for them. The central laws are a deception to farmers and consumers.”