March 2, 2021 10:56:24 am
Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar on Monday said that the Punjab’s proposed law on MSP “will prove a failure”, claiming such legislation will just create problems for farmers.
“Punjab ka MSP ka kanoon fail hai (Punjab’s law on MSP will prove a failure),” said the chief minister while talking to a group of journalists at his official residence Monday.
A Bill passed by the Punjab Assembly in October 2020 states that any person or company or corporate house will be punished with imprisonment of not less than three years and a fine if they sign a contract wherein the farmer is compelled to sell produce at less than MSP. The Bill seeks to address the fears of state farmers about being forced to sell their produce at less than the minimum support price (MSP) with an amendment whereby sale of wheat and paddy shall be valid only if the seller pays a price equal to or greater than the MSP announced by the central government.
But Khattar is not impressed with the legislation. “See, a situation where the MSP for a crop is fixed at Rs 2,200 per quintal. It’s okay if the prices are higher in the market than the MSP. In that scenario, there will be no problem in selling the produce. But if the prices in the market are lesser than the MSP, there will be no buyer for the produce. What will a farmer achieve by keeping produce at home? He (has to) go to the home of the buyer to offer his produce (at the market rate),” said the Haryana CM.
The Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020, as introduced by the Centre, provides a buyer the right to engage in trade and commerce of a farmer’s produce across the country. As per the law, “in case of any dispute arising out of a transaction between the farmer and a trader”, a Conciliation Board appointed by the sub-divisional magistrate (SDM) will settle the dispute.
The Punjab Bill also allows the farmer to approach a civil court, besides seeking remedies available under the central act in case of any differences with the buyer of produce. But Khattar says that “the route of court is not very good for the farmer”, with long pendency of cases in courts and property cases sometimes going on for 10-20 years too. He also referred to the pendency of a large number of cases of employees as well.
When asked whether Haryana will also introduce some laws on the pattern of Punjab, Khattar said the if Centre takes any such initiative, if would be for the entire country, adding Haryana government were also considering “a few things”. However, he insisted that introduction of a law on MSP is not possible, adding there was nothing wrong in three farm laws introduced by Centre.
Referring to some reports of some farmers announcing that they will not sell milk at less than Rs 100 per litre, the chief minister did not find it a “practical aspect”, stating that it depends on the buyer at what prices he/she would like to purchase the milk. He also did not approve of the way in which few farmers “were destroying their crops as part of the agitation”.
No confrontation with protesting farmers
Amid farmers’ protests against BJP-JJP ministers in Haryana, the Chief Minister on Monday said they would avoid any confrontation or tussle with the protesters. Khattar was reacting to a query related to farmers’ opposition to the BJP-JJP ministers in villages. “We don’t make it a prestige issue. We don’t want a confrontation or tussle with the farmers. Things keep changing with the passage of time. The matter will be resolved and the agitation will end, though there is no deadline for the same,” said the chief minister.
Rs 7,000 crore less revenue receipts this year
Khattar, who also holds the finance portfolio, said the Covid-19 pandemic has hit revenue collection this year with state receiving less revenue receipts worth Rs 7,000 crore than of the estimates for the financial year. With this, the state also received less grant-in-aid from the Centre leading to a revenue deficit worth Rs 14,000-15,000 crore. However, the state has also incurred less expenditure by Rs 8,000-10,000 crore this financial year with pandemic hitting the developmental works too.
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