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Govt agrees to withdraw Electricity Bill after meeting with farmers, meeting on farm acts to continue on January 4

Eastern Times: December 30, 2020

New Delhi: The government remained firm on backing the contentious farm laws, as it offered concessions to farmers like — the withdrawing the electricity amendment bill and penal provisions for stubble burning. “Of the four agendas of farmers, two have been agreed upon. Talks will resume on January 4 on the two outstanding issues,” Union agriculture minister Narendra Tomar said after the sixth round of talks on Wednesday. Farmers who attended the meet said the government has indicated that it would not repeal the laws, citing the long process required. The 41 farmers’ groups attending the meet said they will respond after discussing the issue among themselves.

The government has offered to withdraw the Electricity Amendment Bill and the penal provisions for stubble burning in the Air Quality Commission Ordinance, which were also among demands of the protesting farmers, who are asking for repeal of the three contentious farm laws.

The government is still adamant about not repealing the farm laws, said representatives of the farmers’ groups. It is also not ready for legally enforced support prices for produce and said a committee can be formed to look into it. “The minister said he understands the need for a legally enforceable support price. But it is not practicable due to enormous financial implications,” one of the representatives of a farmers’ union who attended Wednesday’s meeting.

“After the new laws were implemented in Uttar Pradesh, prices of crops have dropped by 50 per cent. Crops are being bought at below MSP. Paddy is being sold at Rs 800 per quintal. We will raise these issues in the meeting,” Bharatiya Kisan Union leader Rakesh Tikait told reporters.

The farmers have accused the government of benefitting corporates at their expense.  They have said they will accept nothing less than a repeal of the contentious farm laws. They also insist on a law that guarantees the Minimum Support Price, for which the government is only ready to give a written assurance.

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