In a big development on Friday, the talks between the Union government and the farmers' unions came to a standstill amid the protests against the farm laws. This development comes after the associations refused to agree to the Centre's proposal for suspending the implementation of the aforesaid legislation for one and a half years. While the 12th round of talks lasted for nearly 5 hours, the farmers claimed that the two sides sat face-to-face for less than 30 minutes. Maintaining that there was no problem in the three agrarian laws, Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar stated that the Centre had offered to suspend them as a token of respect for farmers.
Moreover, he categorically said that the Union government is ready for another meeting only if the farmers want to discuss this proposal. Therefore, no date has been fixed for the next round of talks. Lamenting the breakdown in the talks, Tomar also alleged that some external forces did not want the farmers' stir to end. Previously, the Centre had agreed not to penalise farmers for stubble burning and to continue the present mechanism of giving subsided electricity for agricultural use. Meanwhile, the farm unions have decided to go ahead with their tractor rally scheduled on January 26. At present, the implementation of the farm laws has already been suspended by the SC pending the recommendations of the expert panel.
Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar remarked, "The talks between the Centre and the farm unions has been going on since October 14. These talks have taken place for 45 hours. 11 round of talks have taken place apart from one round of talks with officials. The Indian government under the leadership of PM Modi remains committed to enhancing the welfare of farmers and the poor."
We asked them to reconsider our proposal as it is in the interest of farmers and the country. We asked them to convey their decision tomorrow: Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar on the eleventh round of talks between farmer unions and the government https://t.co/3D8Ka2AXfG— ANI (@ANI) January 22, 2021
Earlier on Thursday, the Supreme Court-constituted committee held its first meeting with farmers' unions across the country via video conferencing to resolve the standoff over the farm laws. Even as BKU president Bhupinder Singh Mann has opted out of the panel, the three other members- agricultural economist Ashok Gulati, Pramod Kumar Joshi- Director, South Asia, International Food Policy Research Institute and Shetkari Sanghatana president Anil Ghanwat interacted with 10 farm unions from Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Telangana, Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh. These unions not only gave their frank views about the agrarian laws but also gave suggestions to improve the implementation of the laws.
The Farmers' Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020 aims at freeing the farmers from the constraints of the state Agriculture Produce Market Committees whereby they would be able to sell their produce anywhere. Meanwhile, The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020 protects and empowers farmers to engage with processors, wholesalers, large retailers, exporters for farm services. This entails the provision of contract farming. On the other hand, The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020 specifies that the supply of foodstuffs including cereals, pulses, potato, edible oilseeds, and oils shall be regulated only under exceptional circumstances.