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Published On: Tue, Oct 20th, 2020

Congress Ruled Punjab Passes Farm Laws To Counter Centre

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nationalherald_2020-10_5635cf4b-ad33-47fd-80af-38846694e54d_punjab (1)CHANDIGRAH: The Punjab Assembly on Tuesday unanimously passed four Bills and adopted a resolution against the Centre’s farm laws. The Bills were passed after an over five-hour discussion, in which BJP MLAs did not take part. The BJP has two legislators in the assembly.The Opposition SAD, AAP and Lok Insaaf MLAs backed the legislations.
The state government’s legislative counter provides for imprisonment of not less than three years and fine for sale or purchase of wheat or paddy under a farming agreement below the minimum support price.
The provisions exempt farmers from attachment of land up to 2.5 acres and provide for prevention of hoarding and black marketing of agricultural produce. Earlier, Chief Amarinder Singh had urged all parties to unanimously pass his government’s historic Bills in the Vidhan Sabha.
After passing the farm bill the Punjab has become the first state to formally reject and counter the three controversial farm laws passed by the centre last month amid unprecedented chaos in parliament. On Tuesday the state Assembly in a matter of minutes first approved a resolution against the centre’s laws, and then introduced and cleared three bills – each of which is designed to counter one of the centre’s laws.
The three bills cleared by the Punjab Assembly today are – Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Special Provisions and Punjab Amendment Bill 2020; the Essential Commodities (Special Provisions and Punjab Amendment) Bill 2020; and the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services (Special Provisions and Punjab Amendment) Bill 2020.
One of the three counter-bills allows authorities to impose fine and a jail term of not less than three years on any individual who buys, or sells, wheat or paddy below the government-mandated MSP (minimum support price) – the alleged removal of MSPs, as claimed by critics of the center’s laws, was one of the biggest flash-points in farmers’ protests that took place across the country.

Shortly before the counter-bills were passed Chief Minister Amarinder Singh said he was “not afraid of resigning” and would not let “farmers suffer or be ruined”. Punjab has emerged as the epicenter of protests against the centre’s farm laws, with Congress MP Rahul Gandhi leading tractor rallies in the state.
Last month Congress chief Sonia Gandhi asked states where the party was in power to bring in laws to overrule the ones passed by the centre. The constitutional rule she referred to allows state legislatures to enforce laws “repugnant to the parliament law”, if they get presidential approval.
Farmers across the country have protested against the centre’s farm laws The three counter-bills passed by the Punjab Assembly today now require Governor VP Singh Badnore’s assent before they become law.
Critics of the centre’s laws have said it will rob farmers of access to a minimum support price – guaranteed sale prices that are a source of credit in hard times like droughts and crop failure, and removal of which will severely impact small and marginal farmers.

Critics have also pointed out that the entry of private players – facilitated by the centre’s laws allowing farmers to sell to institutional buyers rather than to a middleman at a government-controlled wholesale market – will weaken farmers’ bargaining powers and affect, once again, smaller and marginal famers.

The government has insisted that by removing any barrier to inter- and intra-state trade of farm and agricultural produce, it is empowering farmers to sell their goods at markets and prices of their choice.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has repeatedly assured farmers that MSPs will not be scrapped, but verbal assurances have done little to ease concerns.
(Bureau Report with agency Inputs).



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