A day after Punjab government passed its own Bills to negate Centre’s farm laws, noted economist, Dr Sardara Singh Johal, said that rather than solving farmers’ issues, the matter has been further complicated by these state Bills. He also said that Punjab government continues to stay silent on protecting the rights of those farmers who are growing diversified crops to bring the state’s area under paddy down but selling much below of the MSP rate.
Talking to The Indian Express, Dr Johal said: “Government is creating complications for itself as well as for the farmers in the name of vote bank because with the passing of the Bills like the Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) (Special Provisions and Punjab Amendment) Bill, 2020. This Bill does not allow any sale of paddy or wheat in Punjab at below MSP rates. With this, the early varieties of paddy, which reach mandis in advance (in September), will not find a buyer. Such varieties are generally purchased at below MSP as these carry a little high-moisture and traders purchase it little below the MSP rate but due to the provision of the punishment up to 3 years now such buyers will exercise caution and will not come to the mandi resulting in harassment of the farmers who will either sit in the mandis with such crops to wait for government procurement to start or will have to store their produce at their place till the government procurement.”
He asked: “Why a trader will pay MSP for a high-moisture paddy variety?”
Further speaking on the issue, he said that with the passing of these laws now the matter will linger on because it has constitutional limitations and no one knows that how much time it will take to become a law.
“The Governor of the state will send it to the President. The President can sign these or he may not and can keep with him for long,” said the noted economist, asking what the farmers of Punjab will do till then?
“Can they be on roads and tracks for long?” he asked.
“It would have been better if the Punjab government had adopted a middle path and approached the Centre to put its case strongly to get it certain required conditions included in the Centre’s Bill,” he said, adding: “I am personally feeling that farmers will not get any benefit from it because the MSP for wheat and paddy was already there and the state government has only ensured it further by incorporating fine and punishment like sections.”
He also demanded to know what the state government was doing to secure the rights of the growers of non-government purchase crops like maize, basmati etc.
“To boost diversification in Punjab, it is necessary to safeguard non-paddy and non-wheat growers too along with wheat and paddy growers,” he said.
He said that the Centre may bring any law, the MSP on Punjab’s wheat and paddy will never end till the time Centre needs both the crops from Punjab for PDS and paddy will continue here till the last drop of Punjab’s ground water is not sucked and the policies of successive government will be responsible for that situation.
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