As many as 200 farmers associated with the Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM) collectively rejected the APMC Bypass Act and demanded similar action from the Indian Parliament during a Kisan Sansad on July 23, 2021. A peaceful meeting was organised at Jantar Mantar where members said that the Act, first brought up in September 2020, usurps state government powers and undermines constitutional and democratic functioning.
Six people including Speakers and Deputy Speakers spoke for the three sessions of the “House”. Following the question hour and debate, members Hardev Singh Harshi, Jagtar Singh Bajwa, V Venkataramaiah, Jangvir Singh Chauhan, Mukesh Chandra and Harpal Singh Bilari concluded:
“State governments, in consultation with farmer unions, should strengthen marketing and storage facilities for farmers, bring improvements in mandi system to facilitate more transparency, easier participation of more small traders, women farmers and farmers without land pattas. There should be an end to unfair and anti-competitive practices. More mandis should be established so that every farmer has access to a mandi within 10 km. The Centre should help in financing such improvements rather than take away the power from states.”
Members also demanded the resignation of the Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar.
The discussion that continued from a day prior observed that the provisions in the concerned Act favour agribusiness companies and traders at the expense of farmers’ interests. It will dismantle existing regulation and oversight mechanisms, allowing domination of markets by big corporations, said farmers.
Further, those present spoke of crores of loss between June 2020 and January 2021 during the execution of the APMC Bypass Act. Farmer leaders said many APMC mandis reported non-payment and fraud by unregistered traders, companies that more than halved the purchases. Many APMC mandis were at the verge of closing down.
“The APMC Bypass Act will lead to closure of most mandis in due time because of corporates and traders flocking to the unregulated “trade areas” created by the Act,” said the organiser of the Kisan Sansad in a press release.
Amidst discussions, farmers said they need many more operating mandis with the government investing in the development of public marketing and storage facilities. Further, they demanded that any future changes in the marketing system should be undertaken by state governments which are more accessible and accountable to farmers.
Inside India’s Parliament
MPs attending the monsoon session spoke about the issue of farm laws and the farmers’ struggle. Members from various political parties previously moved multiple adjournment motions for the same in the Parliament and most of them have been rejected.
On Friday morning, several MPs protested near the Gandhi Statue yet again while Tomar met with people holding placards, voicing the demands of the peasant struggle.
“It is time that the Modi government reconciled itself squarely with this simple reality – farmers will not retreat without a full repeal of the three laws, and without securing MSP as a legal guarantee. The resolution to the current agitation is only through this, and the Government not recognising this to this day, has been responsible for the lives of hundreds of farmers being lost in the agitation,” said SKM leader Darshan Pal.
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