Maharashtra Govt tables 3 farm bills to counter Central laws

Mumbai: In a bid to express solidarity and support to the ongoing protest by farmers at the Delhi borders opposing the three Central farm laws, the Maha Vikas Aghadi government on Tuesday tabled three amendment bills in the Maharashtra Assembly and sought suggestions from the public in two months. The government moved bills to amend Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020, The Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020 and The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020. The government’s move is to counter the three Central farm laws.

The bills propose higher than MSP rate for produce in farming agreement with traders, timely payment of dues, three-year jail term and Rs 5 lakh fine or both for harassment of farmers. The state government will have power to regulate and prohibit 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 encroach on rights of state governments. The bills will be taken up for discussion and passage during the winter session of the legislature 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 agricultural produce being offered is not more than the MSP. If the farmer is not paid in seven days of sale of his produce, a criminal offence can be lodged against the trader and punishments include three year in jail and Rs 5 lakh penalty, Bhuse said.

Co-operation minister Balasaheb Patil said to ensure farmers get remunerative price for their agriculture produce within time and to protect their interests, the draft bill proposes that no trader shall trade in any scheduled agriculture produce unless he has a valid licence from the competent authority, he added.

In any dispute arising out of a transaction between a farmer and a trader, parties may seek a solution by filing an application to the competent authority and an appeal against the order of competent authority to the appellate authority, he said.

Food and civil supplies minister Chhagan Bhujbal said the state government proposes to amend the act in its application to Maharashtra and assume power to regulate and prohibit production, supply, distribution and impose stock limits.

Meanwhile, leader of opposition Devendra Fadnavis said the government has proposed three farm acts and that too the ones which were already accepted by the Centre. ‘’Though we express satisfaction, we want to ask why was it delayed and blatant misinformation spread against these three farm acts?’’ he asked.

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