Home / News / India /  Farmers reject government's proposal to dilute key provisions in laws

NEW DELHI : The Centre on Wednesday offered to significantly change the contentious farm laws to pacify protesting farmers. It proposed to dilute major provisions of the marketing reform laws, including taxation and dispute resolution, and address concerns relating to the weakening of the minimum support price (MSP) regime. Farmer unions, however, rejected the offer and stuck to their demand of repealing the laws, saying they will intensify the protests.

“In yesterday’s meeting with (Union home minister) Amit Shah we had made it clear that we will not negotiate on amending the laws. Our firm position is that these laws will have to go and the government must give a legal entitlement to MSP," said Shiv Kumar Sharma, a farmer leader from Madhya Pradesh, and member of Samyukta Kisan Morcha, which is leading the agitations.

On Wednesday afternoon, a formal proposal reached farmer leaders negotiating with the Centre, according to which states will have the freedom to impose taxes and fees in private mandis (wholesale markets), a move aimed at maintaining a level playing field between private and state regulated markets. This comes against the backdrop of farmers fearing that the farm laws passed by Parliament in September would weaken state regulated markets and widen the role of private players.

“The government’s offer is a climb down from its previous position that the laws are beneficial for the farmer, but it does nothing to strengthen the MSP regime that farmers were demanding," said Ramandeep Singh Mann, a farmer activist who is taking part in the protests.

Since 27 November, thousands of farmers from Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh have assembled at the Delhi border with tractor-trolleys, urging the government to withdraw the laws, and make assured purchases at support prices a legal entitlement. On Wednesday, farmer organizations said they will block more highways leading to Delhi and protest demonstrations will be held across the country on 14 December.

Among other changes proposed by the Centre is that states could be allowed to frame rules on registration of buyers. According to the legislation passed by Parliament, anyone with a PAN card, which is required to file income taxes, can purchase produce from farmers directly without any state oversight. The government also proposed that farmers can approach civil courts in case of any trade-related dispute. This was limited in the farm laws that were passed to district authorities such as the sub-divisional magistrate.

The government also promised a written assurance to farmers that the existing MSP-based procurement regime will continue. It said that sale or auction of farm land will remain outside the purview of the new contract farming law. The Centre also said that a proposed electricity amendment bill will not change the existing subsidy regime for farmers and their concerns relating to a new law on stubble burning will be addressed.

“The purpose of the laws was to allow free trade outside state regulated markets. If states get back their rights to frame rules on these, what is the point of having these laws?" said Himanshu, associate professor of economics, Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi.

“Farmers seem to have rejected the Centre’s proposal because of a trust deficit. Their fear is that if they call off protests now, what will happen in Parliament when it comes to making the amendments will be uncertain," Himanshu said.

Gyan Verma contributed to this story.

Catch all the Business News, Market News, Breaking News Events and Latest News Updates on Live Mint. Download The Mint News App to get Daily Market Updates.
More Less

Recommended For You

Trending Stocks

Get alerts on WhatsApp
Set Preferences My ReadsWatchlistFeedbackRedeem a Gift CardLogout