As farmers’ agitation against three farm laws entered its 27th day, Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar said on Tuesday he is hopeful that protesting unions would soon complete their internal discussions and resume talks with the government to resolve the crisis.
He met two more peasants’ bodies from Delhi and Uttar Pradesh that extended support to the legislations.
“Representatives of different farmers’ bodies had come to tell that the laws are good and are in the interest of farmers. They had come to urge the government not make any amendments to the laws,” Tomar said after meeting the two groups.
“I am hopeful they (protesting farmers’ unions) will soon complete their internal discussions and come forward for talks. We will be able to find a solution successfully,” the minister said.
Agriculture Ministry had written to the protesting groups on Sunday, urging them to specify their concerns on the government’s proposal and finalise a date for the next round of talks to end the protests. At least five rounds of formal talks have failed to break the deadlock as the agitating unions have not agreed to anything less than repeal of the laws.
UP-based Kisan Sangarsh Samithi (KSS) and Delhi-based Indian Kisan Union (IKU) are among those farmer groups that have extended support to the laws in the last three weeks. The previous groups were from Haryana, Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh.
However, nearly 40 groups are agitating against the laws on various Delhi borders.
The protesting groups have maintained that the new laws will eliminate the safety net of the minimum support price (MSP), do away with the mandi (wholesale market) system and leave them at the mercy of big corporates. The government has been saying that these apprehensions are misplaced. Rajya Sabha MP Surendra Singh Nagar as well as former Uttarakhand Minister and IKU National President Ramkumar Walia were also present in Tuesday’s meeting.
“The three laws enacted by the Centre are good and are in the interest of the farming community,” KSS President Ajay Pal Pradhan told PTI after the meeting.
While supporting the laws, KSS also urged the minister to ensure that procurement at minimum support price (MSP) continues.
Pradhan claimed that thousands of farmers who have come in tractors in support of the laws have been stopped at the border and therefore a select group has come for the meeting.
In its representation made to Tomar, KSS also requested the Centre to implement the 2011-12 agreement signed between farmers of Gautam Buddha Nagar with Noida, Greater Noida and Yamuna Development Authorities.
“Even after the High Court order, the development authorities are not implementing the agreement under which the UP government had decided to give 10 per cent of the developed land to farmers whose land was acquired for the development and housing project,” Pradhan said.
KSS further demanded that the government should notify only that much land which is required for the development. In the Secunderabad industrial area, industries have developed 45 per cent of the land acquired and the rest is not used yet.
“The land was acquired in 1972, but only on paper, the industries are made functional. No infrastructure has been developed. There is no proper road and water facility. Villagers are finding it difficult,” Secunderabad Block Pramuk Pushpendra Bhati said.
KSS also demanded steps towards modernisation of mandis, use of mandi tax for development of mandis, a scheme to reduce tubewell charges and farm loan at a lesser interest rate, among others.
“We have read the farm laws in detail and are in favour of farmers. We urge farmers not to get misled on this issue,” Walia said.
The new agri laws will end middlemen and give options for farmers to sell their produce, he added.