Punjab Assembly introduces its own farm bills

NEW DELHI: Punjab became the first state on Tuesday to pass a resolution rejecting the recent farm laws brought by the Centre and passed four Bills to counter the central laws.

The Bills were passed unanimously with support from all political parties in the sitting which was skipped by two MLAs of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). After the passage of the bills, Singh along with several MLAs in an all-party delegation met Governor V P Singh Badnore to apprise him and urge him to accord his assent at the earliest to the bills passed by the assembly.

“I am not afraid of resigning. I am not afraid of my government being dismissed. But I will not let the farmers suffer or be ruined,” Chief Minister Amarinder Singh said while introducing the four bills in the assembly on Tuesday during the special session which was called. “Protecting the interests of our farmers and the people of Punjab is paramount. It is and must be above everything else. Will not bow to any injustice to Punjab, even if it means having to quit,” he added.

The four bills passed by Punjab on Tuesday are The Farmers’ (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services (Special Provisions and Punjab Amendment) Bill, 2020; The Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) (Special Provisions and Punjab Amendment) Bill, 2020, The Essential Commodities (Special Provisions and Punjab Amendment) Bill, 2020 along with a bill on Amendment to the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908.

The four bills focus on safeguarding sale at minimum support price (MSP), punishment including imprisonment up to 3 years for any violation, prevention of hoarding and black-marketing of food grains to protect consumers along with the civil procedure amendment which is aimed at providing relief to farmers against attachment of land up to 2.5 acres. The resolution passed by the assembly has sought the annulment of the Centre’s three farm laws and the Electricity (Amendment) Bill, 2020.

“There is a total breakdown of federal structure which was envisaged in the Constitution. We have no rights now and all powers of states are being taken away. You can neither have taxation nor there is any constitutional guarantee because they are not giving us 7 months due of GST (Goods and Services Tax) which amounts to nearly Rs. 9,000 crores. This is really unfortunate,” Singh told reporters after meeting the Governor on Tuesday evening.

Last month, Congress president Sonia Gandhi had conveyed to Congress-ruled states to bring legislation to negate the impact of the central laws on agriculture. Punjab passing the Bills could prompt other opposition-ruled states, at least those under Congress like Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh, to bring in similar laws in order to step up pressure on the Centre over the move.

The passage of the Bills in Parliament had led to the SAD quitting the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) last month. On Tuesday, when the bills were taken up in the Punjab assembly, SAD MLA and senior leader Bikram Singh Majithia welcomed the legislations and spoke on the need for consent from the governor or the President in case the Bills are forwarded to them before becoming Acts. 

The passage of the three farm laws by the Centre led to a series of protests, particularly in Punjab and Haryana, with farmers and farm bodies demanding repeal of the laws. The union government, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has maintained that the laws will usher in a new era of farm reforms, freeing the sector with interference of middle men and bringing in new technology.

President Ram Nath Kovind last month gave his assent to the three farm bills which have now become laws. These are The Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020, The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020, and The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill 2020.

Source: LM

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