Tribune News Service
New Delhi, November 13
A meeting between farmers and union ministers to break ended inconclusively on Friday evening, leaders of farmers unions said.
Farmers’ union leaders met central ministers at Delhi’s Krishi Bhavan in an attempt to break a impasse over the controversial farm laws that Parliament had passed in October. The meeting lasted seven hours, but saw no immediate breakthroughs.
Union leaders said they will now hold a meeting in Chandigarh on November 18 to decide their next course of action.
Union leaders described the meeting as “positive” and said that the central government said it would consider setting up a committee to look into their demands.
Leaders said they would take a decision on allowing passenger trains to operate in the state on November 18.
BKU leader Balbir Singh Rajewal said: “A decision on such an important matter cannot be taken in just one meeting”.
“Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar listened to all our issues,”
A delegation of union leaders met Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar, Minister of Railways Piyush Goyal and Som Prakash MOS Ministry of Commerce & Industries.
“Agriculture Minister cordially welcomed the representatives of farmers’ organisations of Punjab and briefed about the reforms made in the agriculture sector to empower the farmers. It was emphasised that agriculture is always on the top priority for Government of India to boost rural economy,” an official source said.
“The new Farm Acts would not only provide freedom of choice to the farmers to sell their produce at remunerative price but also safeguard the interest of farmers,” the source said.
Farmers are believed to have kept five demands before the Centre, including revocation of the three Acts, the restoration of rail services in Punjab and withdrawal of the strict laws for burning ‘parali’, which include a jail term and Rs 1 crore fine.
Apparently, they also told Railway Minister Piyush Goyal that farmers had vacated the rail tracks, accusing the Centre of economically blockading Punjab.
Thirty farmer unions on Thursday decided to attend the meeting with the Centre today but in the same breath demanded that the three agriculture laws be revoked.
Rajinder Singh Deepsinghwala of Krantikari Kisan Union said it had been decided that thousands of farmers from Punjab would now move to gherao Delhi in tractors on November 26-27.
Farmer leaders also demanded the state government immediately release the long-pending dues of cane growers.
“The neighbouring state of Haryana has increased the state advised price (SAP) of cane to Rs 350 per quintal, while the cane price has remained static in Punjab in the past three years. We demand that we be given a similar raise. The state government, too, is ignoring the farmers,” said Harmeet Singh Qadian, president, Bhartiya Kisan Union (Qadian).
The representatives of farmer unions are also demanding a cut in diesel tax in the wake of a drop in prices of crude oil.