Centre information ‘2 decades’ of talks, says no choice however reforms post-Covid
Protesters at the Delhi-Ghazipur border on Monday. (Express picture by Prem Nath Pandey)
Seeking to dispel what it called “the incorrect notion … marketed” by protesters that the government and Parliament did not hold any consultations before passing the farm laws, the Centre Monday filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court detailing the “two decades of considerations” behind them. It also argued that some states had actually been tardy in carrying out the reforms in their “true spirit”.
The affidavit filed by the Secretary, Ministry of Farming and Farmers’ Well-being, likewise underlined the “major, sincere and useful efforts” made by the federal government to engage with “the restricted number” of farmers opposing the laws. It said that the reality that the agitation was restricted to only one place showed that a majority of the farmers find the legislation “progressive and in their interest” by offering them choices. “The agitation by/in the name of some of the farmers may, for that reason, not be dealt with as reflection on the credibility of the law or its effectiveness and effectiveness for the farmers’ community.”
The affidavit argued that modifications were required in state marketing laws as these hindered farming trade in addition to provision of legal support to farmers to realise profitable costs. It said the need for reforms “was felt and developed in the late Nineties after kick-start of economic liberalisation”, which an Expert Committee established to review the agricultural marketing system had in a June 2001 report recommended numerous legislative reforms.
Following this, the Centre pointed out, an inter-ministerial job force report of June 2002 had also advised “a number of legal reforms in the State APMC Acts and the Important Commodities Act to remove restrictive arrangements hampering advancement of an effective and competitive marketing system, for promotion of direct marketing, for motivating agreement farming and for rationalisation of market fee/tax structure”.
It wanted acceptance of this report that the Agriculture Ministry formulated the Design APMC Act, 2003, and Rules, 2007, in assessment with states, the Centre stated. When it was observed that their adoption by states and Union territories “was of different degree and sluggish”, in 2010, an Empowered Committee of 10 state ministers was formed to “convince” the states to carry out the Act and rules, as well as to suggest more reforms.
This committee submitted its report in 2013, looking for actions for removing barriers in the method of markets. The affidavit said the committee “specifically sought advice from farmers from numerous states”, and hence the petitioners’ claim of not being spoken with “has no basis in truth whatsoever”.
The affidavit went on to discuss a Working Group of Agriculture Production, constituted in May 2010, under the chairmanship of the Haryana Chief Minister and including CMs of Punjab, West Bengal and Bihar. It stated this group advised “that the market for agricultural fruit and vegetables should be instantly devoid of all sorts of constraints on motion, trading, stocking, finance, exports etc” which “no monopoly, including that of APMCs or corporate licensees, should be permitted to restrict the market”. The committee also suggested that the Important Commodities Act be conjured up only in times of emergency and in assessment with states.
Next, in 2017, the Centre stated, the federal government formulated “a progressive, more liberal” State Farming Produce and Animals Marketing (Facilitation & Advancement) Act to “offer for geographically restriction-free” trade of farming produce; to give “freedom” to farmers to offer; to “boost openness” in payments; to promote several channels for competitive marketing, agri-processing and farming export; and to encourage investments.
On May 21, 2020, the affidavit said, the Department of Farming, Cooperation and Farmers’ Welfare held a conference, participated in by 13 states/UTs, for feedback on this brand-new legal structure.
Thus, the Centre stated, it has been “actively and intensively engaging with the states for about 20 years to achieve the … objectives of reforms to offer available and barrier-free market system” which “states either showed reluctance to embrace the reforms in true spirit or made partial or cosmetic reforms”.
It said that while the Covid-19 lockdown setbacks had additional accentuated the need for reforms, just states such as Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, Uttarakhand, Madhya Pradesh, Goa, Tripura and Meghalaya had taken some steps to assist in farmers. Which it remained in light of this that it had actually brought in the three laws via regulations, which were later changed by Acts.
About talks with the objecting farmers, the Centre stated it had done all it might to deal with “specific complaints of some farmers”, listing the “useful dialogue” hung on various dates, and the application of the Swaminathan report through treked MSP. Considered that the Acts had received “broad acceptance “, it stated, the need for repeal is “neither reasonable nor acceptable”.
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( the headline, this story has not been released by Important India News personnel and is published from a syndicated feed.).