In sharp contrast to the vehement protests being held across India by their brethren, members of the Shetkari Sanghatana, the farmers’ union formed by farmer leader Sharad Joshi, will hold a demonstration on October 2 to welcome the recently-passed farm Bills. Shetkari Sanghatana president Anil Ghanwat said the union will also press for “further freedom” for the farm sector.
The Sanghatana has welcomed the three farm Bills, passed in Parliament amid strong protests by the opposition, and termed them as the first step towards “financial freedom for farmers”. The new legislation limits powers of Agricultural Produce Marketing Committees (APMCs) and this is a welcome step, said Ghanwat, adding that this would lead to more investment in rural areas and encourage agro-based enterprises.
The union has been critical of the ongoing protests and claimed that they were fueled by traders and commission agents who felt threatened by the Bills.
“The amendment to the Essential Commodities Act, 1955, is welcome but the clause which gives the central government power to reintroduce the stringent norms in case of a sharp year-on-year price escalation is anti-farmer. We want that clause to be repealed,” read a press statement issued by Ghanwat on Tuesday.
Members of the Sanghatana will not only hit the roads on October 2 in support of the farm Bills, they will also submit proposals to the district collector with their suggestions.
The most stringent opposition to the farm Bills have come from Haryana and Punjab, where farmers and political leaders alike have decried the Centre’s move and said the amended legislation was a roundabout attempt by the government to cease MSP operations. They have also raised concerns about the fate of mandis in these areas.
Farmers’ organisations have urged the government to ensure that private bodies which buy out of the markets adhere to the MSP while procuring produce from farmers.
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