This Article is From Nov 13, 2020

Punjab Farmers Against Farm Laws Meet Centre, Reveal Five Demands

Farmers also said punishments for burning farm wastes - linked with deeply unhealthy spikes in air pollution in Delhi and surrounding areas - must be cancelled

Punjab farmers' representatives met union ministers Narendra Singh Tomar and Piyush Goyal today

New Delhi:

Punjab farmers protesting against the three controversial farm laws passed by the centre in early September - laws that have been criticised as "anti-farmer" - met union ministers Piyush Goyal and Narendra Singh Tomar today and presented a long list of demands.

Apart from the immediate withdrawal of the farm laws, the farmers said punishments for burning farm wastes - linked with deeply unhealthy spikes in air pollution in Delhi and surrounding areas - must be cancelled and farmers charged jailed for this be freed.

These punishments include a jail term of up to five years and a fine up to Rs 1 crore.

Other demands made by the representatives of farmers' unions from the state include dropping of cases related to stubble burning and reversal of an amendment to the Electricity Bill, which promotes privatisation of the sector and discontinuation of free supply for farmers.

"We have made a demand in front of the Agriculture Minister (Narendra Singh Tomar) and Railway Minister (Piyush Goyal) that the three laws related to agricultural reform should be withdrawn because through this the corporate grip will become very strong," Sukhdarshan Singh Natt the leader of the Punjab Kisan Union, told NDTV.

The farmers also called for the immediate restoration of goods train services across the state.

The Railways had stopped all passenger and goods trains in Punjab after vociferous protests by farmers saw blocked highways and rail rokos at more than two dozen locations across the state. Today the farmers' representative said all tracks had been vacated.

The blockade led to losses to the state economy worth Rs 22,000 crore, minister Sunder Sham Arora told news agency PTI. The Railways has suffered an estimated Rs 1,200 crore loss.

The farmers said their protests would continue if the centre did not accept the demands. The farmers' union leaders will now meet in Chandigarh on November 18 to chalk out their future strategy. The protest scheduled for November 26 in Delhi will proceed as planned, for now, the union leaders added.

The set of three farm laws - cleared by parliament after shocking chaotic scenes - have been met with protests from across the country.

Apart from fears it will remove MSPs (a source of credit in hard times like droughts and crop failure), critics say the laws leave small and marginal farmers at the mercy of corporates and private players.

The government says by removing barriers to inter- and intra-state trade of farm and agricultural produce, it is empowering farmers to sell their goods at markets and prices of their choice.

Last month Punjab became the first state to formally reject and counter the farm laws; the Assembly passed three bills - each of which is designed to counter one of the centre's laws.