Ahead of the crucial seventh round of talks between the protesting farmers and the government slated for January 4, farmers’ leaders today prepared their plans to make the Centre agree to the two main demands of repeal of the three acts and some sort of legal backing to the Minimum Support Price (MSP).
“The Centre’s appeal yesterday to the farmers to suggest an alternative to repeal of the three acts is an impossibility as the Centre itself has thrust these laws on the people undemocratically,” the working group of the All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee (AIKSCC), one the groups participating in the agitation said.
Unless they are repealed there is no scope of discussing pro-farmer changes in the mandis and farm processes for ensuring doubling farmers’ income, the association said.
Meanwhile, the farmers stationed at various borders across the capital have decided to ring in the New Year sans any celebrations.
“There is no New Year for us until the government accepts our demands,” said Harjinder Singh from Punjab’s Ropar, who has been camping at the Delhi-Haryana border since November 25 told news agency PTI.
In the last round of talks on Wednesday, the government addressed the farmers’ concerns over the increasing power tariff and penalties for stubble burning, but that wasn’t good enough to celebrate yet, said the protesters.
Among the issues that remain unresolved are the revocation of the new farm laws and a legal guarantee on MSP for their crops.
Most farmers this year will be welcoming the New Year away from their families, but they are not complaining.
“Yes, we have a family back home and we are missing them, but this is also our family. All these farmers are our brothers, and uncles,” said Harjinder.
Farmers have been protesting at Delhi borders against the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020; the Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020; 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.
The government has repeatedly asserted that the MSP and Mandi systems will stay and has accused the opposition of misleading the farmers.
In a related development, industry body Ficci has written to Punjab Chief Secretary to intervene in incidents of “vandalism” of Jio’s mobile towers, as it urged the state to step up efforts to ensure that such incidents do not occur.
While, another industry association, PHDCCI said that the 36-day stir by the farmers has caused an economic loss of around Rs 70,000 crore in the third quarter of Fy 2020-21 through disruption of supply chains and impact on daily activities of Punjab, Haryana and Delhi-NCR.
“Farmers’ agitation has severely impacted the business of MSMEs in Punjab, Haryana and the border areas of Delhi as raw material of such units are procured frequently to execute production processes and to meet up demand,” Sanjay Agarwal, President of PHDCCI said in a statement.