A primary: Centre points fact-sheet on farm legal guidelines, says mandis, MSP unaffected

Aditi Tandon

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, Jan 31

Amid a raging farmers’ agitation and opposition’s accusations that the new farm laws will demolish the mandis and the MSP system, the Government Sunday issued a first-of-its-kind detailed fact sheet to dispel “incorrect information” on the laws and reiterated that the mandi system and MSP regime will not be affected by new legislations.

A day after NCP chief Sharad Pawar attacked the Centre for bringing laws to destroy the mandi system, Agriculture Minister Narendra Tomar in a series of tweets countered Pawar.

Tomar said it was incorrect to say that the new laws placed the private agricultural business out of the ambit of the mandi system.

“Under the new laws state governments continue to have the power under the APMC Act to notify warehouses, private markets, yards and sub yards. New law is operative in trade areas outside the structures notified under the APMC Act,” said Tomar as the Centre worked to dispel what it calls myths about the laws.

Tomar rejected opposition’s insinuations that the new law demolishes mandi system and APMCs will be choked for funds damaging the infrastructure for MSP procurements.

“This is incorrect. Mandis will continue to levy fees and other charges prescribed under the APMC Act. Mandis can be further strengthened through Central government investment in marketing infrastructure,” said Tomar.

He also reacted to farmers’ and opposition’s apprehensions regarding the amended Essential Commodities Act which proposes to remove stockpiling limits on foodgrain, pulses, onion, potato, oilseeds.

“There are concerns that corporates may purchase commodities at lower rates and stockpile and sell at higher prices to consumers. This apprehension has no basis. Under the Act the Centre can intervene in case of extraordinary circumstances including war, famine, extraordinary price rise and natural calamities of grave nature,” said Tomar.

He said to argue that new laws restricted APMC or state government from collecting levy or fees from private markets is also wrong.

“APMC and states can collect fees from private markets which have been notified under the APMC Act,” the minister clarified.

On opposition’s charges that the new law designates SDM or higher officials for arbitration in dispute resolution, Tomar said, “This is incorrect. Mandi committees will continue under the APMC Act. New law provides for a pro farmer measure at tehsil level coordination board where farmers are represented. Additional provisions for dispute resolution at sub divisional authority and thereafter by collector are farmer friendly measures to avoid costly litigation.”

The government also said Sharad Pawar’s argument about new laws empowering the Centre to issue licences to those who are not part of agri trade organisations is wrong.

“Mandi committees will continue to issue licences under the APMC Act. Under new law there is no need of any licence for any person, farmer producer organisations or agricultural cooperatives for trading. Traders only need a valid PAN card under IT Act,” said Tomar.

He added that the opposition was incorrect in saying that the new laws brought agri trade subjects under Union government.

“The Centre is legally empowered to legislate on agri trade while legislations on agri markets remain within the power of the states. Also it is wrong to say that new laws allow the union government to permit large corporates for e trading which will not be part of mandi system. The fact is several corporates have been involved in e-trading but so far there is no protection to farmers against exploitation. New laws provide for legal protection to farmers on e trading platforms in trade areas outside the APMC,” Tomar clarified.

“Since Sharad Pawar speaks with some experience and expertise on the issue, it was dismaying to see his tweets employ a mix of ignorance and misinformation on the agriculture reforms. Let me take this opportunity to present some facts. As he is such a veteran leader, I would like to believe that he was genuinely misinformed of the facts. Now that he has the right facts, I hope he will also change his stand and & also explain the benefits to our farmers,” said Tomar.

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