Mumbai: The Shiv Sena-led MVA government in Maharashtra on Tuesday has announced three amendment bills in the assembly related to agriculture, co-operation, food, and civil supplies, in a move to counter the new farm laws enacted by the Centre that are facing opposition from a section of cultivators. The bills have provisions for higher than MSP rate for produce in farming agreement with traders, timely payment of dues, three-year imprison term, and Rs 5 lakh fine or both for badgering of farmers.
They moreover have provisions to give power to the state government to control and regulate production, supply, distribution, and impose stock limits on essential commodities. Revenue Minister Balasaheb Thorat said the central farm acts were passed without discussion and several of their provisions infringe on the rights of state governments. “The state government has right to make laws and we need to propose amendments to the central agriculture laws which we feel are anti-farmer,” he said.
The bills which have been put in the public domain for two months for proposals and complaints are – Basic Commodities (Amendment), Farmers (Empowerment and Protection), Guarantee Price; Agriculture Related Agreements (Maharashtra Amendment), and Amendments to Central Government Farmer Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation).
The draft bills have been prepared by a cabinet sub-committee headed by Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar. Pawar said the draft bills will be in the public domain for two months amid which all stakeholders can hold discussions and debates about their provisions. The bills will be taken up for discussion and section amid the winter session of the council in Nagpur (held in December), he said.
Agriculture Minister Dada Bhuse said farming agreements (between traders and farmers) will be considered invalid if the price of Agri produce being offered isn’t more than the MSP (minimum support price). If the farmer isn’t paid in seven days of the sale of his produce, a criminal offense can be against the trader and punishments include three-year imprisonment and Rs 5 lakh penalty, Bhuse said. Co-operation minister Balasaheb Patil said under the central acts, there’s no control over traders in case of a default in payment to the farmer after the sale of agriculture produces.
To guarantee farmers get remunerative prices for their agribusiness to produce within time and to protect their interests, the state government has chosen to amend the Centre’s Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act in its application to Maharashtra, Patil said. The draft bill proposes that no trader shall trade in any scheduled Agri produce unless he has a valid license from the competent authority, Patil said.
According to a senior minister, this new law envisages detainment for up to three years for those cheating farmers. The department of law and judiciary is now engaged in finalising the legislation.