No record of farmers deaths, no question of financial assistance: Govt

Replying to Opposition’s query on granting financial assistance to kin of farmers who died during the year-long protest, Union agriculture minister Narendra Singh Tomar said that they have no record in the matter and hence the question does not arise

The Samyukta Kisan Morcha has asked the government to come to the table and discuss all pending issues with farm leaders

The government said in Parliament that it has “no record” of the farmers who had lost their lives while camping at the Delhi borders to protest against the contentious three farm laws and hence there is no question of granting any financial assistance to their families.

This is however one of the key demands made by the protesting farmers after the three farm laws have been repealed.

In a written reply to the Opposition’s query on whether the Centre will grant financial assistance to the families of the farmers who died during the year-long protest, Union agriculture minister Narendra Singh Tomar said, “Ministry of Agriculture has no record in the matter and hence the question does not arise.”

However, according to farmers unions, over 700 farmers had died while protesting against the agri laws (which have now been repealed) at the Singhu, Tikri and Ghazipur borders since November 2020. The deaths were largely because the agitating farmers had conducted their sit-ins in cold harsh weather, and had become ill from the unhygienic conditions, while a few others had committed suicide.

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Meanwhile, the Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM), which is an umbrella body of 41 farmer unions, asked the government to come to the table and discuss all pending issues with farm leaders, said an India Today report. The farmers have not given up on their struggle as yet.

Also read: Won’t call off protests; let’s talk MSP next: Farmers’ unions to Centre

Though the Farm Laws Repeal Bill has been passed in the Lok Sabha, the SKM has said the farmers will continue their protest until the government accepts their demand to provide legal guarantee for Minimum Support Price (MSP). They have also demanded that the police cases against protesting farmers be withdrawn and compensation for the kin of the farmers who died during the protests.

The SKM had confirmed that the Centre has sought five names from farmer unions for the panel to discuss the Minimum Support Price (MSP) and their other demands.

On the question on whether the Centre had held discussions with farmers to arrive at a consensus on the three farm laws, in his written reply, the Union Minister said the government had held 11 rounds of negotiating talks with the agitating farmer unions to resolve the issues and they had actively engaged with the protesting farmers.

The Opposition also raised the issue over implementing MSP for agricultural produce. To this, Tomar replied that the Centre has announced MSP for 22 cash crops during both rabi and kharif seasons on the recommendation of the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP). Both central and state government agencies buy crops at MSP from farmers, and this leads to selling price of the various notified crops to go up.

The Centre has also implemented the Pradhan Mantri Annadata Aay Sanrakshan Abhiyan (PM-AASHA) to ensure MSP to farmers. In his reply, the Union minister pointed out that under PM-AASHA, states/UTs are offered to choose either Price Support Scheme (PSS) and Price Deficiency Payment Scheme (PDPS) in a given procurement season with respect to particular oilseeds crop for the entire state. “Pulses and copra are procured under PSS. Only one scheme i.e., PSS or PDPS may be made operational in one state with respect to one commodity,” he said.

Further, states have the option to roll out Private Procurement and Stockiest Scheme (PPSS) on pilot basis in district/selected APMCs of districts, which will involve the participation of private stockist for oilseeds. Moreover, wheat paddy and coarse grains are procured under the existing schemes of the Department of Food and Public Distribution, while cotton is procured under the existing schemes of Ministry of Textiles, said the Union minister in his reply.

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