The Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Ordinance, 2020; The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement; and The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Ordinance, 2020, the three bills which turned up the heat in parliament and in Punjab, the rice bowl of India passes Lok Sabha on Friday through the voice of vote.
The three bills will now be tabled in Rajya Sabha and become laws after the Upper House also passes them. But why are the above bills receiving a wave of anguish from the farming community despite hails from renowned economists and centre which claimed to get better prices for their produce?
Why did a 100-year-old, Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) raise objections while its leader Harsimrat Kaur Badal resigned from the Union Cabinet..?
According to the claims made by the BJP-led state government, the reforms will accelerate growth for farm produce in national and global markets. The bill on Agri market seeks to allow farmers to sell their produce outside APMC ‘mandis’ to whoever they want. That is the bills seek to allow barrier-free inter-state and intra-state trade of primary agricultural commodities.
The legislation will allow the government to invoke the Essential Commodities Act only if retail prices rise 50% in case of non-perishables and 100% in the case of perishable items from the average retail prices in the preceding 12 months or last five years.
Opposition parties including Congress, Trinamool Congress, Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP) opposed the bills accusing that they are “anti-farmer” as it would lead to big monopolies and be as bad as the current cartelisation in mandis and also affect the procurement system.
Despite reassurances from the government, farmers believe that the bills will render the current MSP procurement system ineffective, leaving them at the mercy of “big farmers”. Condemning the bills, the farmers in Punjab have organised a three-day protest and called for ‘rail roko’ agitation across the state from September 24-26.