The sixth round of talks between agitating farmers and the Central government ended today with a slight ray of hope with the latter agreeing to two of the four main demands while deciding to meet again on January 4 to deliberate on the critical issues of repeal of farm acts and legal guarantee for MSP.
The Centre has agreed to keep farmers outside the ambit of the Pollution Control Ordinance for NCR that will prevent any penal action for stubble burning and also ensure that the draft electricity amendment act does not tinker with the existing system of subsidy disbursal in states.
Sources said on the main demand for repeal of the three farm acts passed by the Parliament in September and legal guarantee for MSP, which was the first two of the four-point charter of demands pushed by the agitating farmers’ unions, the Centre proposed constituting a committee, a final decision on which is expected in the next meeting.
The Supreme Court, too, which is hearing a petition related to the farmers’ agitation has said in one of its observations that a panel comprising of farmers’ leaders, government officials and independent experts could be constituted to break the deadlock.
“Discussions on the three farm laws and MSP are continuing and will continue in the next round of talks on January 4,” Tomar told reporters after the meeting ended.
He said talks were held in a cordial atmosphere and the two sides reached an agreement on two issues — one relating to the proposed electricity law and the other about an ordinance on penal provisions for stubble burning.
“Decision on 50 per cent of the demands have been reached for the remaining we will meet again on January 4 in Vigyan Bhawan,” the minister added.
He hailed the unions for maintaining peace and discipline during their protest, but urged them to send the elderly, women and children back to their homes due to the extreme cold weather.
After the meeting, one of the protesting Union leader Kalwant Singh Sandhu said Wednesday’s talks mostly focussed on electricity and stubble burning, while the next meeting on January 4 would focus on the MSP guarantee and the three farm laws.
Farmers meanwhile have decided to withhold their proposed tractor march on the Kundli-Manesar-Palwal highway on Dec 31 in protest against Centre’s laws.
Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar was accompanied by Food and Railways Minister Piyush Goyal and Minister of State for Commerce Som Parkash at the meeting
Thousands of farmers from Punjab, Haryana, UP and some other states are protesting against the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act.
Enacted in September, the three farm laws have been projected by the central government as major reforms in the agriculture sector that will remove the middlemen and allow farmers to sell anywhere in the country.
However, the protesting farmers have expressed apprehension that the new laws would pave the way for eliminating the safety cushion of Minimum Support Price and do away with the mandi system, leaving them at the mercy of big corporates.