Chhattisgarh may amend state law to counter farm legislation
According to a senior government official privy to the developments, the Chhattisgarh government, where the Congress is in power, has not opted for new bills to negate the central legislations because it could be in direct conflict with it.Updated: Oct 27, 2020, 00:53 IST
To counter the three agriculture laws enacted by the Centre last month, the Chhattisgarh government has decided to amend its own law on agricultural produce to bring in specific safeguards for farmers, senior state government officials aware of the development said, adding that this is a different route to what the Punjab government took when it passed a new set of legislation to negate the central laws.
A draft of the Chhattisgarh Agriculture Produce Market (Amendment) Bill, 2020, was on Monday approved by the state cabinet at a meeting chaired by chief minister Bhupesh Baghel, and would be tabled in the special assembly session to be held on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Chhattisgarh is the second state after Punjab to hold a special session of the assembly to counter the central laws. The Punjab assembly had on October 20 passed four bills and a resolution to invalidate the three farm laws, guaranteeing minimum support price (MSP) for wheat and paddy growers, and provide for imprisonment of not less than three years and fine for its sale or purchase below the MSPs, even as it is yet to get presidential ascent for the state legislations.
In first week of November, Rajasthan government too will call a special session of the assembly in which bills to provide MSP protection for seven staple crops would be introduced, state government officials said.
According to a senior government official privy to the developments, the Chhattisgarh government, where the Congress is in power, has not opted for new bills to negate the central legislations because it could be in direct conflict with it.
“So, the state government has decided to amend its own Chhattisgarh Agriculture Produce Market Act for safeguarding the interests of the local farmers,” the official said on condition of anonymity.
The Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020; the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance, Farm Services Bill, 2020; and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill 2020 were pushed through in Parliament last month. Big farmers’ groups, particularly in Punjab and Haryana, say the Centre’s farm reforms could pave the way for the dismantling of the system of MSPs and that deregulation will leave them vulnerable to powerful agribusinesses and in an even weaker negotiating position than before.
Agriculture minister Ravindra Chaubey said that of the three central laws, the federal government has gone back to original position on the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill, 2020, after the onion crisis in the country. “As far as other two bills are concerned, the Chhattisgarh government will not bring any law to negate them but will amend Chhattisgarh Agriculture Produce Market Act. The aim is to counter the central law with our own state laws,” he said.
The minister said the amendments by the state will increase the “operating area” of mandis to the entire state, like Rajasthan did in September to limit the impact of central farm laws.
“Through these amendments, we would be able to audit and investigate the procurement by private companies,” Chaubey said, adding that the Constitution has given the state government power to make laws for agriculture.
On why Chhattisgarh has opted for a different route than that of Punjab, a senior official at the Chief Minister’s Office said getting the governor’s approval for a new law would be difficult. “But, widening the ambit of our own APMC law will not be in conflict with the central farm laws and the governor should not have any problem in approving it,” the official said.