Tractor march across Punjab shows farmers dissent over the Centre’s agriculture-related ordinances. Farmers in Punjab and Haryana protest farm ordinance and high fuel prices.
Farmers in Punjab and Haryana protest
Hundreds of farmers in Punjab and Haryana took over roads demanding the repeal of the three farm ordinances and the Electricity Act. That apart, they have also asked for lowering increased diesel prices which increased input costs. Convener of All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordinating Committee Darshanpal said that members of 10 organizations took part in the protest. The farmers took out protests across 50 places in the state. They protested outside the residences and offices of Shiromani Akali Dal-BJP MPs and MLAs.
Explaining the matter, farmers’ union leader said that Sukhbir Singh is securing a seat for his wife in the Union Cabinet by supporting BJP’s decision. He also criticized Congress for saving BJP from wrath by banning protests amid coronavirus. Farmers were seen carrying out protests without masks in South Malwa. Thousands of farmers carried out objections from the Company Bagh area to the residence of BJP MP Shwait Malik in Amritsar. Also, 500 tractors protested from the grain market to the residence of Union Minister of State for Commerce and Industry, Som Parkash. The protests blocked traffic for three hours in Mansa.
A Chasm in the Ruling Alliance and Opposition
A senior leader of SAD in Chandigarh said that the party’s only concern is to help farmers. Earlier, Punjab CM, opposing the ordinances, wrote to PM that the decision would decrease the state’s precious tax revenue. He said that wholesale markets are essential for maintaining the food security of the nation. Besides the fees levied on these markets contribute to the development of the rural infrastructure. Similarly, a senior leader in Maharashtra, which became the second state to allow farmers to sell outside APMCs after Punjab, said that there is yet to be decided about the implementation of the ordinances.
Punjab’s Amended APMC Act
Amarinder Singh backed the state’s farmer union to oppose the three ordinances. These include Farmer Product Trade and Commerce ordinance 2020, Price Guarantee and Farmer Services ordinance 2020, and Essential Commodities (Amendment). In Punjab, the farmer sells the produce to state-owned mandis under Punjab Mandi Board. The government charges a fee from the mandis, which is later useful for their development. However, the ordinances facilitate the farmer to sell the product anywhere and not mandatorily to the Mandis.
The Punjab government amended the APMC act in 2017. The changes provided for setting up of ‘Kisan Mandis’ and ‘special mandis’ where farmers could sell directly to customers. The Abohar Kinnow mandi, Ludhiana’s fish market, and Balachaur’s green pea mandi are some of the examples of such mandis.
The state government made a provision for setting up of Price Stabilisation Fund’ to aid farmers in case crop prices fluctuate. Besides, the government continued to levy Rural Development Cess on notified private selling yard under the APMC act. Moreover, the government had directed the traders to make payment s within 48 hours of purchase. Not only this but the government had also introduced the Unified License System for the big companies to enter food processing keeping in mind the interest of the farmers. However, there are no such provisions under the ordinances Centre’s ordinances.
In all, the farmers of Punjab fear that the ordinances will weaken the MSP regime.