‘Views of Haryana, Punjab, Bihar, Bengal CMs taken before passage of farm laws’
The Centre said this in response to Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) lawmaker Harsimrat Kaur Badal’s question to union agriculture minister Narendra Singh Tomar whether Punjab objected to the framing of the laws when consultations were held between 2017 to 2020
The Centre onTuesday told Parliament that recommendations from chief ministers of Haryana, Punjab, Bihar, and West Bengal were taken into account before the three farm laws that have triggered protracted protests were passed last year. It added ministers of 10 states were part of a committee formed in 2010 and they recommended that the “monopoly” of Agriculture Produce Marketing Committees or corporate licensees should not be allowed.
The Centre said this in response to Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) lawmaker Harsimrat Kaur Badal’s question to union agriculture minister Narendra Singh Tomar whether Punjab objected to the framing of the laws when consultations were held between 2017 to 2020 and whether it submitted consent for the legislation.
Tomar said the government felt the need to reform the agricultural marketing sector to ensure “better and competitive price” realisation to the farmers and encourage capital formation in the sector. He added the government constituted various committees including an Empowered Committee of 10 state ministers in charge of agriculture marketing in 2010 and a Working Group of Agriculture Production in May 2010 for recommending market reform measures. Tomar said the group said the market for agricultural produce “must be immediately freed of all sorts of restrictions on movement, trading, stocking, finance, exports, etc.”
“The said Committee recommended that no monopoly, including that of Agriculture Produce Marketing Committees (APMCs) or corporate licensees should be allowed to restrict the market,” Tomar said. He added state governments were also consulted through video conferencing in May 2020 for feedback on the new legal framework facilitating barrier-free inter-state and intra-state trade in agriculture produce. Tomar said officials representing states and union territories including Punjab attended it.
The Left Front ruled West Bengal in 2010 before it lost power to Trinamool Congress (TMC) a year later. The Left parties as well as TMC have opposed the three farm laws. Congress, which has also opposed the legislation, ruled Haryana until 2014. SAD ruled poll-bound Punjab from 2007 to 2017 and quit the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government at the Centre over the farm laws.
Growers protesting against the farm laws renewed the push for their repeal last month as they began a sit-in near Parliament. They say the laws threaten their livelihoods and thousands of them have camped on highways near Delhi for months in protest against the legislation. Opposition lawmakers have protested against the farm laws during the ongoing Monsoon Session of Parliament.
The government has maintained the laws, which were passed in September 2020, will boost the income of farmers even as growers insist the legislation favours private retailers by allowing them to buy farm goods outside government-regulated wholesale markets.