Tribune News Service
New Delhi, December 3
Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar on Thursday said the government was ready to address farmers’ concerns over the APMC Act and several other issues related to the farm laws and hoped the next round of meeting on December 5 would be “conclusive”.
Talking to the reporters after a marathon seven-and-half-hour meeting with farmer leaders, Tomar said: “The meeting was held in good atmosphere. Some points have emerged on which farmers have concerns.”
“We have always said that we are with farmers. We will hold discussions on how to make the APMC stronger. Private mandis act similar to APMC mandis, we will also consider that,” he said.
The senior minister also said farmers’ concerns over the SDM courts would also be addressed. “We are ready to consider it,” he said.
“We are also ready to discuss Air Ordinance and Power Act,” Tomar added.
The minister also reiterated that there would be no tinkering with the MSP. “MSP will not be touched,” he pointed out.
Earlier, farmers’ groups met Union ministers Piyush Goyal, Som Prakash and Narendra Singh Tomar for a fourth round of talks amid an ongoing protest seeking repeal of the new farm laws.
Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar, Railways, Commerce and Food Minister Piyush Goyal and Minister of State for Commerce Som Parkash, who is an MP from Punjab, held talks with the representatives of 35 farmers’ unions at the Vigyan Bhawan in the national Capital.
On December 1, talks between both the sides ended in a stalemate after farmers’ groups rejected the government’s suggestion of a new committee to look into issues raised by farmers protesting against the new laws.
The government had rejected the demand for repealing the laws and asked the farmers’ bodies to identify specific issues related to the newly enacted Acts and submit those by December 2 for consideration and discussion on Thursday.
Enacted in September, the laws have been presented by the government as major reforms in the agriculture sector by removing middlemen and allowing farmers to sell anywhere in the country.
However, the protesting farmers have been worried that the new laws will eliminate the safety cushion of a Minimum Support Price (MSP) and procurement system, while rendering ineffective the mandi system that ensures earnings for various stakeholders in the farm sector.
On Wednesday, agitating farmers demanded that the Centre convene a special session of Parliament and repeal the new farm laws as they threatened to block roads in Delhi and “take more steps” if it failed to do so. (With PTI inputs)