Shiromani Akali Dal president Sukhbir Singh Badal on Wednesday asked Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh to “immediately declare the entire state of Punjab a principal market yard for agricultural produce so that the Center’s latest Acts (Bills passed by both Houses by Parliament before they become legislation after Presidential assent) on agricultural marketing do not apply in the state.”
“This is the best, the quickest and the most effective way for Punjab to pre-empt the application of Center’s latest anti-farmer Act in the state because the Center’s Acts do not and will not apply to principal market yards declared by any state government. Therefore, Punjab government must act without delay,” Sukhbir said in a written statement here Wednesday.
“The state government has the power to notify the whole state as a principal market yard, sub-market yard and market sub-yards. The provisions of the present Acts by the Center exempt these yards or marked areas from the jurisdiction of the legislation. Thus, if the Punjab government declares the whole state as a principal market yard, the Center’s Acts will automatically be rendered infructuous in the state and will not apply in any part of the state. As a result, private players who enter the market will have to compete under the same set of laws as applicable to state procurement,” said the SAD president, adding, “In the event of the failure of Captain to revoke these amendments, the SAD will revoke these in the first cabinet meeting when we form a government in the state.”
Punjab Advocate General Atul Nanda said: “Farmers’ interests are paramount to us and Chief Minister will shortly unveil what he has in his mind. Captain Amarinder Singh has a much larger vision for the farmers of the state.”
Sukhbir’s proposal, meanwhile, came after his party had urged the President not to sign the three agricultural Bills in question. “The President’s response is still awaited, but the SAD wants to pre-empt the application of the dreaded provisions of these Acts before they come into force. We want Amarinder to do it immediately in order to avoid the likelihood of any technical or legal hitches once the Acts come into force. There is no time to waste,” said the SAD president.
Sukhbir also declared that the SAD will never allow these Acts to apply to Punjab. “No matter what steps we have to take or what price we have to pay. If Captain Amarinder Singh does not do it today, he would be exposing the Punjab farmers to exploitation by private corporate sharks. He must do it preferably today itself, so that the Center does not get an opportunity to enforce these new laws in Punjab by inserting a sub-section to ensure retrospective effect,” he said.
Sukhbir also asked the Chief Minister to “rescind the amendments which he had brought into the state APMC Act. These amendments have provisions which are identical to the Center’s Acts which Captain0 Singh claims to oppose. This is a strange situation. The Chief Minister first implemented the same Acts in his state which he now claims to oppose in the Central legislation. The only difference between the provisions of the Punjab Act and Center’s Acts is that the Acts passed by the Parliament are applicable throughout the country while Amarinder’s APMC Act amendments apply only in his state. And that is an extremely unfortunate situation for Punjab. The Congress government in the state needs to come clean on this suicidal contradiction for Punjab and to revoke the amendments enacted by it.” He added “If Amarinder refuses to revoke his amendments, this would show where exactly he stands with regard to the Center’s Act.”
Cong MP Bajwa makes identical request
Congress Rajya Sabha MP Partap Singh Bajwa too has urged the Punjab government to to amend the Punjab APMC Act, to expand the geographical boundary of “market yards” to cover the entire so as to circumvent Centre’s recent farm legislations.
In a letter to CM Amarinder Singh, Bajwa has stated, “It must be noted that under Chapter 1 of the Bill, specifically Clause 2(m), the Government of India has defined ‘trade area’ as any area or location that does not include the physical boundaries of principal market yards, sub-market yards and market sub-yards managed and run by the market committees formed under each state APMC Act in force in India.”
“Due to this, the state government of Rajasthan has notified all warehouses of the Food Corporation of India as a procurement centre under the State APMC Act. I urge you to do the same, to ensure that all portions of these Bills cannot come into force in the State of Punjab.”
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