New Delhi, January 20:
Representatives of protesting farm unions and the central leadership will on Wednesday meet for the 10th time to overcome the deadlock over three contentious agricultural laws enacted during the monsoon session of Parliament in September.
The meeting, which was originally scheduled for Tuesday, comes as the ninth round of talks on January 15 remained inconclusive.
In the previous meeting, while farmers remained adamant on the demand to repeal legislations, Union agriculture minister Narendra Singh Tomar urged them to be flexible and asserted that the government has been accommodative and has already accepted several demands.
The government also proposed that the 41-member farmers’ delegation form a “smaller group” with “people who have expertise on laws”. The decision, however, was rejected by farmers’ representatives.
Kavitha Kuruganti, a farm leader who represents the unions at the talks, said that the two sides discussed Essential Commodities Amendment Act 2020, one of the laws farmers want scrapped. Union minister Piyush Goyal defended the new amendments in the act but signalled the government’s willingness to make changes.
He told the unions that “some changes can be made in the Act too without quite saying that (what specific) amendments will be made,” according to Kuruganti.
On Tuesday, a committee appointed by the Supreme Court to scrutinise three agricultural laws held its first and finalised its roadmap for wide consultations with farmers, farm collectives and unions as well as state governments and state-run agricultural organisations, a member said.
The committee will begin its consultations with farm unions on January 21 over the legislations, which have been stayed by the apex court for the time being. “Invitations have been sent to unions which are both pro- and anti-farm laws,” Anil Ghanwat, a member of the committee.
Farmers have been protesting at the different borders of the national capital since November last year demanding a complete rollback of three farm laws—Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020; the Farmers Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and farm Services Act 2020 and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020.