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Wednesday, December 01, 2021

Work begins to repeal farm laws, unions press other demands

Officials start drafting note for Cabinet; SKM says MSP guarantee issue still pending, asks farmers to continue protests

Written by Harikishan Sharma , Amil Bhatnagar | New Delhi |
Updated: November 21, 2021 7:46:43 am
A scene from Singhu Border (File)

A day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that the three new agriculture laws will be repealed, the Samyukta Kisan Morcha, the body spearheading the farmer protest, said it will continue the agitation to get “all demands” fulfilled.

The SKM called a meeting even as officials of the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare and the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution began the process of drafting the repeal Bills which are expected to get Cabinet nod early next week.

The SKM appealed to farmers to gather in large numbers at protest sites on November 26, exactly a year after they first showed up at Delhi’s border in Singhu, Tikri and Ghazipur to lodge their protest.

It said a kisan mahapanchayat, scheduled for November 22 in Lucknow, will go ahead as planned.

“The Kisan Andolan led by Samyukt Kisan Morcha continues the struggle to get all demands of protesting farmers fulfilled. While the PM announced repeal of the three farm laws, he chose to remain silent on other demands. Demand for statutory guarantee for a fair MSP is an integral part of the current agitation. We are also seeking the withdrawal of the Electricity Amendment Bill completely and to keep farmers out of penal clauses related to statutes on air quality regulation in Delhi,” the SKM said in a statement.

From November 29 onward, the SKM said it will send 500 protesters each day towards Parliament in tractors to protest during the winter session. It demanded that a memorial be built in memory of protesters who died during the past year.

“So far, more than 670 protesters have sacrificed their lives in this movement. The Modi government has refused to acknowledge the high human cost. The martyrs also deserve homage to be paid to them in the Parliament session, and a memorial erected in their name,” it stated.

At the Singhu border protest site, Saturday was far more muted than the day earlier. A prayer ceremony was held at the main stage, attended by nearly 100 people. Protesters insisted more people are expected to arrive in the coming week.

Lakha Sidhana, whose alleged role in the January 26 Red Fort violence is being probed, also visited the protest site to interact with farmers.

On Friday, the Prime Minister said the process to repeal the three laws — the Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020; Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020; and Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020 – will be completed this winter session of Parliament.

While the first two laws come under the administrative control of the Agriculture Ministry, the third is under the jurisdiction of the Department of Consumer Affairs.

Sources said officials in the two ministries started working on drafting the repeal Bills soon after the Prime Minister announced his decision in his address to the nation. The officials, sources said, worked late into the night Friday and resumed work Saturday.

The teams are working in Krishi Bhawan, which houses the two ministries, sources said, adding that the draft Cabinet notes to repeal the farm laws are likely to be ready Monday.

Once the Law Ministry does the legal vetting, the draft Bills, sources said, will be sent to the Cabinet which is expected to discuss them and grant its approval early next week.

“As soon as possible, it will come to the Cabinet,” a source said. While a repeal Bill usually has only three sections, it is the Cabinet note which needs to be exhaustive. Besides, several formalities and approvals are required to complete the legislative process.

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