AGRI-BILLS PASSED BY PUNJAB VIDHAN SABHA UNDER SCRUTINY
Our state Assembly has passed Acts of its own and annulled the Central government Acts.
The Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce Special Provisions and Punjab Amendment Bill no sale of paddy and wheat in Punjab will be valid unless it is paid equal to or over MSP. Imprisonment of three years and a fine in case anybody compels a farmer to sell his agricultural produce below MSP.
The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance (special provisions and Punjab amendment) Act makes it mandatory for those entering into contract farming with farmers too will have to pay the MSP or over the MSP. It makes provisions for punishment of three years if the Act is violated.
Essential Commodities (Special Provisions and Punjab Amendment) Bill keeps all powers to fix stock limits of food grains with state, it rejects Centre’s powers to fix stock limit. Imprisonment of three years and a fine in case anybody compels a farmer to sell his agricultural produce below MSP.
These bills were passed were said to be amendments in laws passed in the parliament in September month.
I HAVE FEW QUESTIONS
1. What is the difference between declaring a market yard (previous Act 2006) and charging fees in new dispensation? In both cases Mandi fees have to be paid. New Act does not eliminate the private markets and corporate.
Government seems to be more concerned about fees only because they have taken loan against the collateral of next three years mandi fees. They have not touched the basic question of corporate running private markets.
FARMERS LAND CAN’T BE PURCHASED OR MORTGAGED
2. Provision that farmers’ 2.5 acres cannot be attached. It is good for loans farmers get from banks and private money lenders. I had recommended 5 acres and one house not to be taken as collateral in my report to the Reserve Bank of India.
Do not the government know that the contract farming Act passed by Akali-BJP government carried a strong provision that farmers’ land cannot be purchased and cannot be even mortgaged and leased. This means the contractor/ sponsor can get land only on rent for a specific period and has to return the land in original condition after the contract expires? In contract farming this 2.5 acre condition goes redundant!
WHAT IF NO ONE BUYS PRODUCE OUT OF FEAR OF PENALTIES?
3. On penalties clause what will happen to the produce which is brought to the market by the farmers a week or sometimes 10 days before the procurement begins by the government agencies? What will farmers do under this condition if no one out of fear of penalties buys that produce?
Take the case of maize and cotton which these Acts ignore completely as if farmers grow only wheat and rice. MSP is declared for these crops. If out of fear no one purchases the crops in the absence of government procurement, where do the farmers stand?
LOG JAM AFTER CREATION OF BILLS
4. By passing these bills the state government has created a log jam. If the Governor takes his own time by returning the bills as he has done and Assembly session is again called on 26 and 27 instant and then takes time as long as he prefers for taking legal advice and sits over it for a month or even more.
Ultimately he has to send the bills to the President of India for his approval, that will be examined by the HRD legal cell in consultation with the law ministry and based on the advice the President does not approve the Acts passed by the state and the state knocks the doors of the Supreme court. It will consume a period of at least one year and even much more, no one can guess how long, because it is a constitutional matter. Will the farmers continue their blockades?
WHAT IF ECONOMIC BLOCKADE CONTINUED FOR LONG?
5. Are we aware what set back the economy of Punjab has suffered including the Agriculture sector and what will be the situation if this block continues especially of good trains?
All parties and stakeholders need to give serious thought and their leaders including political leadership need to sit together to get out of this log jam. leaders must not play vote bank politics at this stage. Kindly realise the Punjab economy is going down the drain!!!