Haryana assembly session: Abhay Chautala to move private member’s Bills seeking amendment in farm laws

Former leader of opposition in Haryana assembly and INLD leader Abhay Singh Chautala has submitted three private member’s Bills to speaker Gian Chand Gupta, seeking guarantee that farmers’ produce will not be sold or bought below the minimum support price (MSP). The Bills will be tabled during the two-day monsoon assembly session starting Thursday and the issue is expected to dominate the proceedings.

Chautala, an INLD MLA from Ellenabad, said he has submitted the Bills seeking amendments in the recently enacted agriculture trade laws by the central government. The assembly secretariat has referred the Bills to agriculture and food and supplies department to explain the government’s viewpoint.

The three private member’s Bills—The farmers (empowerment and protection) agreement on price assurance and farm services (special provisions and Haryana amendment) Bill, 2020, the farmers’ produce trade and commerce (promotion and facilitation) (special provisions and Haryana amendment) Bill, 2020 and the essential commodities (special provisions and Haryana amendment) Bill, 2020—are on the lines of Bills passed by the Punjab assembly recently.

As per the provisions of the farmers (empowerment and protection) agreement on price assurance and farm services (special provisions and Haryana amendment) Bill, no sale or purchase of wheat, paddy, bajra, maize, sunflower seed, mustard, pulses and cotton will be valid unless the price paid for such agricultural produce under a farming agreement is equal to, or greater than, the MSP announced by the Centre. The Bill also provides for a three-year imprisonment and fine for a person, company or corporate house which compels farmers to enter into a contract or sell his agricultural produce at a price below the MSP.

Chautala said he will push for the enactment of the laws proposed by him as they were in the interest of farmers. “Since the Congress which is the principal opposition group in the assembly has nothing to offer on this issue, I am fulfilling the role of the opposition in the House. The Congress leaders are busy in their internal bickering,” he said.

The INLD leader said central laws would nullify the MSP mechanism guaranteed through the existing structure of agriculture produce market committees that has stood the test of time.

“The government has introduced a trading mechanism through these Central acts that is vulnerable to encroachment and manipulation by vested corporate interests leaving the farmer open to vagaries of market forces for getting an optimum price for agriculture produce, fruits and vegetables,” he said.

Chautala said a large number of farmers in Haryana own less than five acres and a majority of them own less than two acres. “They have limited or no access to multiple markets with an inherent handicap of bargaining power to negotiate fair price contracts. They need proper protection by the state government to ensure a level playing field, prevent exploitation and an optimum guarantee of fair market price for the agriculture produce. This is the primary and principal responsibility of the state government which has been overlooked by the central laws,” he added.

Meanwhile, Congress MLA from Dabwali Amit Sihag has signed a memorandum to protest the enactment of three agricultural marketing laws by the Centre. The memorandum is addressed to President Ram Nath Kovind.

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