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As Farmers Keep at Protests Against Agri Laws, Centre Says Open to Talks Against 'Lies of Opposition'

Indian farmers shout slogans as they block a highway during a protest in Noida, India, Friday, Sept. 25, 2020. Hundreds of Indian farmers took to the streets on Friday protesting new laws that the government says will boost growth in the farming sector through private investments, but they fear these are likely to be exploited by private players for buying their crops cheaply. (AP Photo/Altaf Qadri)

Indian farmers shout slogans as they block a highway during a protest in Noida, India, Friday, Sept. 25, 2020. Hundreds of Indian farmers took to the streets on Friday protesting new laws that the government says will boost growth in the farming sector through private investments, but they fear these are likely to be exploited by private players for buying their crops cheaply. (AP Photo/Altaf Qadri)

Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar as well as Food Minister Piyush Goyal said these laws are enacted by the central government in order to give more options to farmers to sell their produce at better rates, but states like Punjab are "misleading" them.

Ahead of another farmer protest planned for month-end against the three farm laws, the Centre on Saturday asserted that these laws are in the interest of the farming community and it was still open to have dialogue with them and clear their doubts.

Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar as well as Food Minister Piyush Goyal said these laws are enacted by the central government in order to give more options to farmers to sell their produce at better rates, but states like Punjab are "misleading" them.

Ever since the three laws were passed in Parliament in September, farmers have been protesting largely in the Congress-ruled states of Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Punjab which have brought their own farm laws to negate the central acts.

Speaking to reporters, Tomar said: "If they (Opposition) wear farmers' glasses and see the laws, they will be able to see the benefits for farmers. If they see from the political prism, they cannot see the benefits." He also reiterated that farmers will continue to get the minimum support price (MSP) for the notified crops and procurement centres will continue to function.

"Opposition is spreading misinformation and lies," he alleged adding that the data on paddy procurement undertaken in Punjab so far in the ongoing kharif season itself shows the Centre's commitment towards MSP buying.

About 169 lakh tonne of paddy has been procured in Punjab alone till November 6 of the 2020-21 kharif marketing season, as against 81 lakh tonne in the same period of 2013-14, he added. Stating that such protests are confined to Punjab, Goyal said those will wither way. It was not successful in neighbouring Haryana.

"Procurement centres are fully operational even now. In fact, we have increased them substantially this year. So, there is no question of the Centre scrapping MSP procurement...," he said, and urged the Opposition to stop misleading farmers.

He said the total paddy procurement across the country has risen sharply to 745 lakh tonne till November 6 of the 2020-21 kharif marketing season from 318 lakh tonne in the same period of 2013-14. Goyal also mentioned that unless the protesting farmers do not clear the rail tracks in Punjab and the state government does not ensure law and order, the services cannot be resumed.

Paddy procurement commenced from September 26 in Punjab and elsewhere from October 1. It may be noted that Bharti Kisan Union (Lakhowal) had organised road blockade on November 5, while another protest is being planned under the banner of the All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee (AIKSCC) in Delhi on November 26-27.


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