The Centre has spent over Rs 7.95 crore in five months till January for a publicity campaign to bust myths about the new farm laws, Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar informed Parliament on Friday. Out of this, the Information and Broadcasting Ministry committed Rs 7,25,57,246 for release of advertisements between September 2020 and January 2021 on behalf of the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, he said.
Tomar, in a written reply in the Rajya Sabha, further said the print advertisements have been published through the Bureau of Outreach and Communication (BOC) in Hindi, English and regional language newspapers for “clarifications related to farm laws including on myth and realities, etc" for creating awareness among the farmers and other stakeholders.
The Agriculture Ministry has incurred an expenditure of Rs 67,99,750 on production of three promotional and two educational films on the farm laws for its wider publicity through electronic media, social media and webinars. Besides, miscellaneous expenditure of Rs 1,50,568 was incurred on development of creatives for print advertisement, the minister added.
On expenses incurred on overseas publicity campaign, the minister said there was “nil" expenditure as per the information received from the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA). However, the missions/posts, as part of regular diplomatic work shared the latest developments, the government’s considered position and useful information on the farm laws, including frequently asked question (FAQs) etc on their social media accounts in their outreach to the diaspora, he said.
The related government departments have also created awareness through social media platforms, he added. Responding to another query, Tomar said the government engaged itself actively and constantly with the agitating farmers’ unions and 11 rounds of negotiations were held to resolve their issues. During various rounds of negotiations, the government had been requesting the agitating farmers’ unions “to discuss the farm laws clause by clause" in order to resolve their concerns on the clauses bothering them, he said.
“However, farmers’ unions never agreed to discuss the farm laws except for the demand for their repeal," he noted.
The farmers’ protest at Delhi borders has entered its third month. Thousands of farmers, especially from Punjab, Haryana and parts of Uttar Pradesh, are agitating seeking repeal of the new laws, introduced by the Centre last year, saying they are pro-corporate and could weaken the mandi system.
The 11 rounds of the talks between the Centre and 41 protesting farmer unions has so far remained deadlocked even though the former has offered concessions including suspension of the legislations for 18 months, which the unions have rejected.