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A thaw? Centre agrees to farmers’ demands on stubble burning, power subsidy

The meeting at Vigyan Bhavan in New Delhi December 30, 2020, between farmer leaders and the government

The sixth round of talks between farmer leaders and the Centre ended December 30, 2020, with the government agreeing to two of the four agenda items of the meeting, the Union Minister for Agriculture and Farmers Welfare told journalists.

It was decided that farmers would be excluded from penal provisions for burning stubble under the Commission for The Air Quality Management in the National Capital Region and Adjoining Areas Ordinance, 2020. 

The Centre also agreed to the changes demanded by farmer unions in the Electricity Amendment Bill 2020. 

“The Electricity Act hasn’t been brought into force yet,” Narendra Singh Tomar told the media.

“But farmers feel that if that does happen they will be at a loss. Hence, electricity subsidy for irrigation by states should continue, they say. There has been a consensus between the farmer unions and Centre on this point too,” he added.

However, no consensus was reached on the farmer leaders’ moot demand of repealing the three controversial laws. Talks about this and the legal assurance on Minimum Support Price (MSP) will now be held January 4, Tomar said. 

The two other items on the meeting’s four-point agenda December 30 included modalities of repealing the laws and providing a legal guarantee on MSP.

Farmer unions said they were still sticking to these two demands and were hopeful about the meeting January 4. Meanwhile, farmers have deferred their plan to hold a tractor rally at the Singhu border till the next meeting. It was initially scheduled to be held December 30. 

The meeting concluded after five hours of discussion at Vigyan Bhawan in New Delhi. The government also said it could form a committee to deliberate on the farmers’ demands regarding the three farm laws. 

The talks December 30 resumed after a long gap since December 9. That was when the sixth round of talks had been called off after farmer leaders rejected the government’s draft amendments sent to them.

During lunch break, Tomar, Union Minister for Railways Piyush Goyal and Union Minister of State for Commerce Som Parkash shared langar (food prepared in community kitchens) arranged by the farmer leaders.

During the meeting, farmer leaders also demanded compensation for the families of those who had died during the protest. 

The farmers’ sit-in protests at the borders of Delhi entered its 34th day December 30.  

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