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Govt puts forth proposal to farmers’ groups giving them a written assurance on MSP


New Delhi: As the stalemate over the farm laws continues, the government on Wednesday put forth a proposal to farmers’ groups giving them a written assurance on minimum support price (MSP), strengthening of agriculture markets and levy of taxes on private mandis, among others. Late Wednesday evening, Agriculture minister Narendra Singh Tomar met union home minister Amit Shah to apprise him of the farmers’ groups rejecting the proposal and intensifying their agitation.

A day after the 13 farmers’ union held discussions with Shah at the Indian Council of Agriculture Research (ICAR), the Centre suggested seven amendments but did not talk about repealing the farm laws.

The 21-page draft by joint secretary of the agriculture ministry, Vivek Aggarwal, agreed to give a “written assurance” on MSP. “The government has tried to address the concerns of farmers with an open heart and with respect for the farming community of the country. The Centre appeals to the Kisan unions to end their agitation,” Aggarwal wrote.

Of these, seven amendments were offered in the two new laws –– The Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020, and The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020. The Centre agreed to provide all necessary clarifications on farmers’ concerns on the new farm laws enacted in September.

Allaying fears that mandis would weaken after the new laws, the proposal noted that an amendment could be made wherein state governments can register the traders operating outside mandis. States can also impose tax and cess as they used to at APMC (Agricultural Produce Market Committee) mandis on them.

Another key amendment was to overcome the apprehension that farmers may be defrauded as anyone having just a pan card is allowed to trade outside APMC mandis. On this, the Centre proposed that the state governments can be given the power to register such traders and amend rules based on the demands by local farmer groups. Similarly, the government said it is open to making an amendment to provide for an appeal in the civil courts. At present, the dispute resolution is to be done at the SDM level.

Five rounds of talks held between the government team, led by agriculture minister Tomar, and the agitating farmers have failed to resolve the impasse. The Centre plans to hold another round of discussions with the unions on Wednesday’s proposal, said officials. Farmers have been demanding that a special session of Parliament be convened and the new farm laws abolished.

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