A day after the Union Cabinet cleared an ordinance to end APMC monopoly, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh Friday rejected the move and called it “another brazen attempt to erode and destabilise the country’s federal structure”, and warned that it could pave the way for “disbanding the MSP regime as well as the foodgrain procurement regime, triggering unrest among the state’s farmers”.
Reacting to the development, the CM said he would challenge the decision and fight any steps on the part of the Government of India to weaken the federal structure of the country through such direct and detrimental interference in the well-established agriculture produce marketing system of the state.
Addressing the media through video conferencing, he said such a measure would impact the food security of the nation, which Punjab’s hardworking and selfless farmers have sustained ever since the green revolution.
Pointing out that the federal structure of India envisages well-defined roles and responsibilities for the Centre and the states, Amarinder said that under the Constitutional framework, agriculture is a state subject, and the Union Government has no powers to make any legislation to deal with the dynamics of agricultural production, marketing and processing. These are state matters, which individual states are best placed to handle and manage, he said, describing the “Farming Produce, Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Ordinance, 2020” as a highly ill-conceived move on the part of the Central government.
Asserting that the move would damage Punjab, the CM said that the Centre’s habit of taking sudden decisions and forcing them on states, without taking their views into account, was violative of the very federal framework of the state. “If we cannot take any decision on crops what are we doing here?” he asked.
Later, in a statement, the CM said that such actions of the Union Government during the Covid pandemic crisis can have serious economic, social and law and order consequences. The farmers will not gain but will actually suffer at the hands of traders due to the legislative change, he said. He pointed out that the Centre had not even created any dispute redressal mechanism, and had not consulted the state governments, which would be left to handle the consequences of this hasty action.
Terming the legislation a cruel joke on the farming community, whose interests have been ignored by the NDA-led Central government, Amarinder said that far from ushering in an era of much-needed reforms in agriculture, the announcements are in fact a clear and concerted design to undermine the systems and processes that are holding the sector together.
Citing the well-oiled agriculture produce marketing system in Punjab, the CM said it had served the state well, standing the test of time, for 60 years. The state has in place a well-developed state-of-the-art infrastructure, both for open marketing of produce and its seamless transportation from the farm gates to mandis and godowns.
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