The Delhi government has notified the Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Ordinance, 2020 — one of the three laws which has sparked protests by farmers — allowing trade of food grains and poultry outside the premises of APMC mandis. The notification was issued on November 23, a senior official in the Development Department told The Indian Express.
CM Arvind Kejriwal has termed the legislations promulgated by the Centre “anti-farmer” and demanded their rollback.
The official said sale and purchase of fruits and vegetables outside Agriculture Produce Market Committees was allowed in Delhi in 2014: “With the Centre introducing the new laws, farmers can sell food grains, poultry outside designated mandis as well.”
As per the Development Department, gross cropped area in Delhi is around 34,750 hectares.
There are six APMC mandis in Delhi. The official added the notification of the new law will not lead to abolition of mandis — a position the Centre also maintains, terming the fears of farmers as unfounded. “After sale and purchase of fruits and vegetables were allowed outside the mandis, new areas came up where brisk transactions take place. Farmers are now demanding new mandis be created in such areas so they can take benefit of infrastructure that comes with it…,” the official said.
Under the new law, sale and purchase outside of mandis shall attract no market fee, cess or levy. Due to this, critics of the law fear buyers will prefer trade outside mandis, rendering them insignificant over time.
“The Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi, in order to give effect to the proviso of the said Ordinance, considers it necessary to redefine the market areas of above named APMC located at Najafgarh, Narela and Ghazipur,” says the notification.
The fear relating to the weakening of APMC mandis and minimum support price (MSP) regime are among the main factors behind the ongoing protests, as part of which thousands of farmers, primarily from Punjab, have gathered at the capital’s doorstep.
When contacted, AAP said, “BJP is clueless on how to handle the nation-wide farmers’ protest and is hopelessly trying to divert the attention of the public. The Delhi government notification allows farmers to sell their crop anywhere, including outside mandis. Selling of fruits and vegetables was already deregulated in Delhi many years ago. Now, this holds for grains too. We have not dismantled mandis. Farmers are not against that, they demand they should get MSP inside or outside mandis. We support this.”
The new Central Act overrides the state APMC Act. Delhi government cannot, therefore, allow APMC regulations to operate outside the physical boundaries of APMC mandis.
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