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Govt looks for middle path, softens stance on some demands

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Govt looks for middle path, softens stance on some demandsNew Delhi, Dec 3 (IANS) The fourth round of talks between the Union government and the farmers’ representatives at the Vigyan Bhawan on Thursday did not reach any conclusion, but the government has softened its stance on some demands of the farmers, who are protesting against the Central farm laws passed by the Parliament in September this year, so as to end their agitation.

While the farm laws won’t be rolled back, the government is considering to take some new measures on some of the demands of the farmers. Regarding apprehensions about the APMCs (mandis), the government is planning to start registration of the traders.

After a long meeting on Thursday that lasted for over seven hours, Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar said that the next meeting on December 5 is going to be conclusive, while the farmer leaders told IANS that they won’t step back till all the three farm laws are repealed.

The meeting on Thursday started at Vigyan Bhawan at 12.30 p.m. in the presence of Tomar, Railway and Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal and Minister of State for Commerce and Industry Som Prakash. The government had requested the farmers’ representatives to submit their objections over the farm laws in writing so that each point could be discussed, which the farmers did.

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Tomar told the farmer leaders, “The Central government has no ego and it is having discussion with the farmers with an open mind. We are with the farmers. Positive results can be achieved only through fruitful discussions.”

The three ministers asked the representatives of over 30 farmers’ organisations about their apprehensions over the farm laws. Almost all the farmers’ representatives demanded to withdraw the farm laws as well as the proposed penalty on stubble burning. They also expressed their displeasure over the Electricity Amendment Act, which is yet to come.

The farmer leaders also talked about their apprehensions over the APMCs (mandis) and discontinuation of the minimum support price (MSP) system. Tomar assured them that the government will consider all their demands. He said the MSP will continue as before. The government will also consider the ways to empower the APMCs and increase their utility in the future.

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The government will also consider about equality of taxes in the private mandis which are peripheries of the APMCs. It will also consider the registration of the traders to trade agricultural produce outside the APMCs. It will see whether the SDM or the court will intervene in case of any dispute.

The farmers also expressed apprehensions about contract farming. To this, Tomar said that written agreement of the farmer’s land cannot be done in any condition, yet if there is any doubt the government is ready to address it.

Now the points raised by the farmers’ organisations will be discussed in the next meeting scheduled at 2 p.m. on December 5. Tomar is hoping that the meeting will be decisive.

–IANS

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