Farmers urge govt to fulfil commitments as they descend at Ramlila Maidan

Later in the day a 15-member delegation of SKM also met agriculture minister Narendra Singh Tomar in the capital and submitted their charter of demands

Agencies New Delhi
farmers protest

Farmers under the banner of Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM) during 'Kisan Mahapanchayat', at Ramlila Maidan in New Delhi | PTI photo

Just five kilometres away from Parliament, thousands of farmers wearing turbans of different colours and styles gathered at the iconic Ramlila Maidan here on Monday demanding that the government fulfil the "written commitments" it made to them in December 2021.
The farmers have converged under the banner of the Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM), a grouping of farmer unions, that led around a one year-long agitation at Delhi borders and forced the government to withdraw the farm laws.

The farmers' demands include a legal guarantee on the minimum support price (MSP), withdrawal of cases registered against farmers, compensation to families of farmers who died during the protest, pension, debt waiver, and withdrawal of the Electricity Bill.
Later in the day a 15-member delegation of SKM also met agriculture minister Narendra Singh Tomar in the capital and submitted their charter of demands.

"There are several unresolved issues and these demand another 'andolan'. We will convene another meeting on April 30 in Delhi. I ask all farmers unions to take out rallies in their respective states and hold panchayats in the run-up to the meeting," farmer leader Darshan Pal said.
Avik Saha, national president, Jai Kisan Andolan said the central government has failed to meet the demands of farmers despite written commitments.

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"Thousands of cases against farmers remain pending. More than 750 farmers lost their lives during the protest and compensation to their families are unpaid. And there are several other demands which have not been met," he said.
Baldev Singh, a 47-year-old farmer from Moga district of Punjab, said some members of the SKM had "gone astray" due to different reasons and the mahapanchayat also aims at bringing them together.

In a statement issued on Sunday, the Morcha had said that SKM leaders would speak about the impact of government policies on farmers, agricultural and migrant labour, rural workers, unemployment, rising cost of living and declining purchasing power.
While announcing the repeal of three farm laws in November 2021, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had promised to set up a committee to suggest measures to make MSP available to farmers across the country.

The Ministry of Agriculture had in July last year also issued a gazette notification announcing the setting up of a committee in this regard.
The notification said the committee would suggest measures to make MSP available to farmers across the country, promote natural farming and prepare a comprehensive strategy for crop diversification, among others.

The Centre had also kept three posts for members of SKM. The Morcha, however, had rejected the committee, saying there was no mention of making a law on MSP in the committee's agenda.
Every year, the central government announces a minimum support price for 22 agricultural crops and a fair and remunerative price (FRP) for sugarcane. This is done so that the farmers growing these crops should receive a minimum price for what they produce. But the government is not bound to purchase all the crops on the declared MSP.

The farmers cannot demand the MSP as a matter of right as there is no legal or statutory backing for this.
The crops which the government procures from the farmers in significant amounts include rice, wheat and cotton.

Public procurement stabilises the prices, with MSP acting as a benchmark for private buyers.

First Published: Mar 20 2023 | 7:42 PM IST

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