“Farmers gathered near Delhi are being misled as part of a conspiracy. Farmers are told that their land will be grabbed by others if new farm reforms get implemented. I want to ask you, did the dairy owner take your cattle because you are selling milk to him?” the Prime Minister said.
“Opposition parties, when they were in power, were in favour of these farm sector reforms, but did not take any decision back then. Now when the country has decided to embrace these reforms, these people are spreading falsehood and misleading farmers. I want to reiterate that my government is ready 24 hours to resolve all your doubts,” Modi said.
He also interacted with farmers from Kutch district of Gujarat, including those from Punjab who have settled there, and members of a local self-help group (SHG).
Thousands of farmers from Punjab, Haryana, and elsewhere have been protesting near various border points of Delhi, including Singhu and Tikri, for over a fortnight demanding the Centre repeal three new farm laws. The farmers’ leaders have held six round of negotiations with the agriculture minister and others to break the deadlock, but so far nothing has moved. Few days back, the Centre handed the farmer groups a list of responses to their main demands wherein it offered some amendments to the three laws that provided some sort of level-playing field between private mandis and regulated APMCs on taxes and cess, power to states to frame rules for registration of out of mandi traders and also a change in dispute settlement mechanism of the acts.
However, farmers have said nothing short of repeal of the laws will satisfy them.
They will hold prayer meetings on December 20 in memory of all those who have lost their lives in agitation. In a meeting on Tuesday, the farmers said women farmers from several parts of their country would join the protest in the coming days. “Centre should first repeal the laws and then come forward for discussion,” the farmers said.
Meanwhile, the Confederation of Indian Industry on Tuesday said it believes that agriculture marketing reforms will give great impetus to investment in extension services to the farmers to further improve productivity and returns.
“Given the need of the hour, the progressive agri marketing reforms aimed towards ‘Moving to One Nation, One Market’ are a significant step that will enable better access to markets, catalyze creation of primary processing infrastructure, improve access to technology and more importantly will help augment farmers’ incomes,” Uday Kotak, president of CII, said in a statement.
The CII had said the current farmers’ agitation might impact economic recovery as the detours due to the blockade of highways have led to 50 per cent more time and distance for movement of goods and about 8-10 per cent increase in logistics costs.
Another industry body, ASSOCHAM, pegged the daily losses at around Rs 3,000 crore due to the prolonged blockade in the region that includes states of Punjab, Haryana, and Himachal Pradesh. It called for early resolution of the imbroglio.