Chhattisgarh passes Bill to counter Centre's farm laws

Chhattisgarh House passes agri Bill to counter Centre's farm laws

Representative image/Credit: AFP Photo

Amid the Congress opposition to the Centre's new farm laws, the party-led government in Chhattisgarh brought its own agriculture amendment bill, seeking to protect farmers from fluctuating market prices, which was passed in the state Assembly on Tuesday.

The Chhattisgarh Krishi Upaj Mandi (Amendment) Bill, 2020, was passed in the Assembly after which Speaker Charandas Mahant adjourned the two-day special session of the House on its first day only.

Introducing the amendment bill in the House, state Agriculture Minister Ravindra Choubey said it is aimed at protecting farmers from fluctuating market prices and payment risks.

The special session was convened amid apprehensions among farmers across the country that the Centre's new laws would harm them, including a fear that their land and produce could be handed over to corporates, he said.

Choubey said amendments were made in the state's Mandi Act to help farmers get better price for their produce, adding the Bill did not violate any central laws, thereby avoiding confrontation with the Union government.

Speaking on the Bill's objectives, Choubey said, "80 per cent of the farmers in the state are small and marginal cultivators.

"Since they neither have the capacity to store grains nor bargain for fair prices, it was necessary to establish 'deemed mandi' and an electronic trading platform for their benefit."

"These moves will help them get the right price for their produce without being impacted by market fluctuations," he said.

The Bill allows the state government to establish deemed mandis or declare private markets as deemed mandis for regulation of marketing of notified agricultural produce, the Congress minister said.

The Bill also has the provision to ensure power to the secretary or any employee of the market committee or board, who is empowered by the competent authority or notified officers, to order production of accounts relating to the purchase and sale of the notified agricultural produce from any person.

These officials will also have the right to inspect storage facilities (godowns) and vehicles and if required and can seize them.

The Bill allows the state government to establish an electronic trading platform sale of notified agricultural produce.

Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel, while taking part in the discussion in the House, said the Centre's new farm laws were meant to help "capitalists" and not cultivators.

Meanwhile, former CM and BJP leader Raman Singh dubbed the amendment bill as "anti-Constitutional" and said it was part of the Congress' political agenda.

He accused the Congress of spreading fear among people about the farm laws enacted by the Modi government recently.

The Bill was passed by voice vote after the discussion.

BJP MLAs demanded that the Baghel government start paddy procurement drive from November 1.

Last week, the Punjab Assembly adopted a resolution rejecting the Centre's new farm laws and passed four bills it said will counter the contentious legislation enacted by Parliament. Punjab is ruled by the Congress.

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