Alleging “flaws” in the controversial farm laws, a retired IAS officer, who once held important positions in Haryana, has come out in support of the farmers’ protest.
S K Goyal, who alleges that the new agriculture laws seek to “demolish the APMC mandi system, the arhatiya system and the MSP in one go”, even addressed farmers at the Kitlana toll plaza on Charkhi Dadri- Bhiwani national highway two days back. Goyal was there on farmers’ invitation.
“I will go time and again, if farmers invite me to address their dharnas,” Goyal told The Indian Express Monday. Before his retirement in May 2017, Goyal had held important positions in Haryana government including Special Secretary (Home), Director General (Industrial Training) and Managing Director of Warehousing Corporation. He also held the position of deputy commissioner in Sirsa and Kaithal. Goyal belongs to Bapora village of Bhiwani district.
Expressing his complete solidarity and support for farmers’ cause, Goyal batted for unconditional repeal of the three agricultural laws. Explaining in detail the backdrop of the APMC (agriculture produce marketing committee) mandi system, the former bureaucrat claimed, “The three agricultural laws are meant to wipe out the traditional mandis out of existence on account of asymmetric tax regime in the proposed trade areas where no tax, fees or cess would be charged while in the traditional mandis under the APMC Act taxes, cess and fees would be charged as before. Once the traditional mandis wither away, the unscrupulous corporate players with deep pockets will exploit the poor and the hapless farmer.”
Quoting the “Bihar example”, he said that after the APMC mandis were bypassed, the farmers there sold their paddy and wheat to “unscrupulous traders” in Punjab and Haryana.
“Rice mill scam in Haryana was the result of unscrupulous millers showing inflated stocks and making good the deficiency through fake invoices, purchasing paddy from Bihar on back dates,” he added.
Apprehending major difficulties to farmers after implementation of new law on contract farming, Goyal said, “Poor and hapless farmers are no match for wily managers of companies, who will contract on behalf of the companies having the assistance of the battery of legal sharks. Past experience shows us that during a surplus year rates of a contracted crop nosedive below the contracted rates, the companies usually backtrack and wriggle out of contractual obligations of purchasing the crop on the flimsy pretexts of specifications, grade and quality of the crop not being as per the terms of agreement.” Criticizing the three laws “for seeking to deprive the farmers of seeking redressal of their grievances in a civil court,” the former IAS officer said “vesting of these powers with the government officials dilutes the checks and balances”.
Wondering why the MSP has not been mentioned even once in the three contentious laws, he expressed apprehensions that the Public Distribution System (PDS) may not survive for long if corporate sharks are allowed to take over the agricultural markets.
Describing the amendments to the essential commodities Act as “wholly unnecessary”, Goyal said that “same may incentivize hoarding and speculation, thus fuelling speculation and unbridled inflation”.
“It was during corona pandemic, border tension with China, economic slowdown and lockdown when these ordinances were pushed through with undue haste and without much consultation with the stakeholders,” he added. He also raised questions in the manner, the state government approved a CLU (change of land use) for 100 acres to set up an agro logistics centre at a village of Panipat district barely weeks before three controversial ordinances were issued in May 2020.
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