Farmers’ unions on Wednesday rejected a written proposal sent by the Centre, detailing the amendments it was willing to make to the three agriculture laws, ANI reported. They said they would intensify their agitation against the legislations with a nationwide protest on Monday. Members of the Krantikari Kisan Union also said that they will block the Delhi-Jaipur highway on Saturday.
Addressing a press conference, farmer leader Shiv Kumar Kakka said that there was nothing new in the government’s proposal sent to them and that it was rejected by the Sanyukta Kisan Committee, a joint platform of the farmers’ unions, PTI reported. Another leader Jangvir Singh said that the unions may consider the Centre’s stand if it sends a fresh proposal.
Kakka said the farmers have decided to intensify their agitation, and that they will block all roads leading to Delhi one by one if the three farm laws are not scrapped. He said all the highways to Delhi will be blocked on December 14 as part of the nationwide protest.
Darshan Pal of the Krantikari Kisan Union said the proposals sent by Union Home Minister Amit Shah contained the same things that Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar told them in their previous meetings.
The Centre had sent a proposal to the farmers protesting against the three agricultural laws, saying that it was ready to give a written assurance on minimum support price, according to PTI. The government had assured the farmers that it was ready to clarify their concerns about the new laws. It, however, said nothing about the farmers’ key demand to withdraw the laws.
The Centre also proposed seven amendments to two of the laws – The Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020 and The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020. It assured farmers that no changes would be made to the existing system of electricity bill payment. One of the demands of the farmers was to scrap the proposed Electricity Amendment bill 2020.
The government also addressed farmers’ concern that the new laws would weaken mandis. The Centre suggested an amendment to allow the state governments to register traders operating outside mandis. It also said that the states can impose tax on them, like they used to do in Agricultural Produce Market Committee mandis. The Centre dealt with the farmers’ demand to scrap penalty for stubble burning, saying that it was ready to find an appropriate solution to the problem.
The leaders of farmers unions held a meeting at Singhu border to deliberate on the Centre’s proposal, before deciding on rejecting them.
Several Opposition parties, including the Congress, also met President Ram Nath Kovind over the farm laws. Apart from Rahul Gandhi, Nationalist Congress chief Sharad Pawar and Communist Party of India (Marxist) Secretary Sitaram Yechury were present at the meeting.
The leaders of farmers’ unions had met Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Tuesday evening. The meeting failed to yield any breakthrough and so the sixth round of negotiations between the farmers and central government, scheduled for Wednesday, was cancelled.
Farmers, mostly from Punjab and Haryana, have been protesting against the laws for nearly two months. The situation escalated two weeks ago, when thousands marched to the Capital, where they clashed with police who used tear gas, water cannons and batons to stop them. Tens of thousands of farmers have camped out at the entrance to Delhi for the fourteenth consecutive day to reverse the agricultural legislations.
The Centre, which claims the laws would revitalise India’s agrarian economy by boosting produce, has made several attempts to placate the farmers. But five rounds of talks have failed to break the impasse so far.